Tuesday, December 30, 2008

we're home

....after a 5 hour saga that ought to have just been a quick 3 hour drive home. Yuck! Suffice it to say, there were miles of bumper to bumper traffic, a detour, getting "lost" and driving 40 mph through fog on 2 lane roads. But we made it, and yesterday spent all day in the house, cleaning and UNdecorating. Feels good to get the house in some kind of decent shape before the school/therapy/band/singers/choir grind starts up again.

Inspired by my brilliant blogging friend Molly, I was thinking of writing my own version of a Christmas letter. Molly points out what is very true for so many of us about those letters......they make you want to cry and vomit at the same time. I even started writing one to share with you, and that was before I got home and found several stellar examples of the oh-so-perfect family letters in our mailbox. But I decided that my letter was just too long, too rambling, too depressing to even post here, so I guess it'll languish forever in the land of Blogger drafts that are never posted. Instead I'll do this.......

My List of Previously Unfathomable Things That Happened in 2008:

1. You've gotta put this one first.....Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. (grinning from ear to ear, of course--is there an emoticon for that?)

2. We chose to put little E on stimulant medications for his ADHD. The ADHD dx wasn't the unfathomable part, as we've assumed that for a while. But the meds....never in a million years thought I'd be doing that for my child.

3. I'm teaching Chorus. Yes, I love to sing. Yes, I'm in choir at church and have even joined a community chorus this year, but still......I'm a BAND person, but increasingly I feel more like a singer than an instrumentalist. *sigh*

4. We're considering moving. Just across town, to be closer to schools, etc, but it's still a big leap. When we finally got this house built, and K moved us in practically single-handedly, he swore we'd never move out of here. But it just doesn't make sense here anymore, and I've chop off my left arm to have some more space; we're pretty cramped around here. So YIPPEE, we're taking baby steps toward maybe going on the market soon! I know, I know, timing couldn't be worse, but it is what it is, right?

5. A precious, dear friend died suddenly, of a heart attack. I miss him--he was so incredibly kind, insightful, unselfish, giving, talented.......what a loss to the music community around here, as well as a personal loss of a unique friend. :(

So what will 2009 bring? Can I make some requests? Hmmm, let's see......

--a new house, in the right part of town, that's bigger than what we have now

--changes at school in my teaching responsibilities, for the better

--a year of progress and success for my boys, and a happy school year for them as well as a positive start to Kindergarten for E.

If I can have these, or maybe even just some of them, maybe I'll have a reason to write one of those Christmas letters after all. A girl can dream, right?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

random observations of Christmas 2008

Hope everyone has had a happy, peaceful and blessed day, surrounded by loved ones and filled with good food and good company. I definitely have.....staying at the in-laws' house with K's 2 brothers, one sister-in-law and my niece and nephew, aged 8 1/2. Thank God that the kids didn't wake up and bring us in to see Santa's leavings until 7:10 am, which has GOT to be a modern day record for latest awakening on Christmas morning. Kids reveled in what Santa brought for about 30 minutes, then we did the present opening (gifts that were exchanged among us all). My boys got entirely too many presents, as is typical, but hey, you're only young once, right?

Anyway, I can't seem to organize my thoughts into a coherently structured blog post tonight, as I am about to drift into a macaroni and cheese coma. So instead, I thought I'd just list some random things for you...give you the flavor of what our Christmas 2008 was like. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays to you all!!!!!

1. I'm currently looking at a plant in the living room, a hanging plant in a macrame basket. Kind of a blast from the past kind of thing.....look it up if you don't know what macrame is. Anyway, there's a tiny Santa figurine (maybe 3 inches tall) peeking out of the top of the flowerpot part. It's just so absurd, it makes me laugh. Maybe that's the cheese overload talking, I'm not sure.

2. I saw A act so incredibly "typical" today, in so many situations. Blows my mind when I take time to think about it. Playing new games and toys with his cousins, hanging out watching movies, playing outside, etc. We are truly blessed, I know that. But every time I get too complacent, he does something.....like meltdown in the kitchen this morning because someone touched his head. Not quite a full fledged MELTDOWN, but there was shouting and near-collapsing onto the floor. *sigh*

3. The Focalin that E is taking flat-out works. I mean WORKS. Did I say works? I meant W O R K S! We actually didn't give him any until about 11:30 this morning, because it wasn't until then that we began to see the "manic" stuff as I'm starting to call it. But within 30 minutes, calm was restored. I'm wishing he could have another dose right now, but it's probably not a good idea at 8 pm.

4. My SIL makes me sick, in a sweet/I love her kind of way. She is so incredibly skinny, looks great, and I don't know how she does it. Guess I've got to drown my sorrows in a piece of pecan pie. Or maybe pound cake. Or pumpkin roll.

5. K's dad has a tradition of putting a certain item in everyone's stocking each Christmas. All of us have stockings, adults included, and each year we get a gigantic bag of peanut M & Ms. Like I need that. Don't want to hurt his feelings, but could we somehow nicely say "just give them to the kids next time" or something.

Well, I guess I'll be limiting my random list to 5 things. E is getting more manic, and believe it or not, reading to him seems to promote calm. I think it's my turn, as K has been on duty while I write.

One more Christmas dinner to go........wish us luck. I might just explode if I eat even one more bite of turkey, or dressing. Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

over the river and through the woods

...to Grandmother's house we go. Or should I say, we went.......and we're still there. K and I are from the same town originally, so it works out well when it's time to go visit all of the grandparents at Christmastime, etc. Takes a grand total of 7 minutes to drive between my mom's and the in-laws.

Got here on Sunday, staying until Saturday 12/27. Hoping to see bunches of family and old friends during this week, but I know we'll be more than ready to go home by Saturday. We have Christmas dinners and present-opening 3 days in a row--24th, 25th, 26th! Don't even want to think about the potential for weight gain. *sigh*

Last night, we had the continuation of a really cool tradition. K and some high school friends (all brass players) decided in the 11th grade to go around and play Christmas carols for their families, friends' families, etc. This was 1987, mind you. They did it again the next year, and the next, and the next. It got bigger each time, more brass players were invited, girlfriends came along to hold the music, etc. Several of them went to the same college, so college friends soon joined in and this was when I got involved (circa 1990). Pretty soon, it began to include wives, and just kept on growing. Before you knew it, there were babies coming along, then toddlers, now elementary-schoolers. We call this "Brass Caroling" or just plain "Caroling". It happens some time during the week before Christmas, and the 2008 version was last night. Year number 22, which makes us all feel incredibly old, but I digress.

Over time, it has evolved into a combination of fun and seeing old friends and playing music + doing something charitable and sharing our Christmas cheer with those less fortunate, etc. We play at a homeless shelter near here every year; they schedule us in so that the people are gathered in a big common area to hear us, etc. Last night it was particularly tough, simply because of the number of people in the audience. This is one time that you want your audience to be small.......but it was a packed house last night, and the staff said they had people lined up outside on "stand by" hoping to get in if a spot opened up. It was in the 20s last night, wind chill in the teens.

I look at them and wonder what they think about us. Not in an egotistical way, but more like "do they think we're pretentious? Do they think we're pathetic in our feeble attempts to do something for them? Do they really enjoy this, does it really help in some small way?" It feels so insignificant, you know? These people have no home, are probably hungry much of the time, might have mental illnesses, addiction problems, or lost their job, etc. Their lives might be extremely unhappy, might feel hopeless, lost, frustrated.......but damn it, they got to sing Jingle Bells with a bunch of college-educated preppy white people who think they're doing a good deed for the less fortunate at Christmastime. How nice.

Sorry. That's the pessimist in me coming out. It IS nice to play there, is more meaningful than playing at the local mall food court which is what we used to do. And I hope it does some kind of good for someone, maybe takes their mind off of the situation for a few moments, etc. Definitely makes me hug my kids a bit tighter, giving thanks for the many blessings we have. Snuggling up in that hotel bed last night, I prayed for those people, and thanked God for our health, our safety and for how fortunate we really are. I forget that a lot, looking at the relative UNprosperity of my family compared to so many we know and associate with. But in the scheme of things, we've got it really, really good.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

earthquake, and other bumps in the road

Well, there was an earthquake in our area this morning. I didn't feel it, but people not too far from here did. 3.6, they're saying on the news. Centered supposedly VERY near A's school, but there are no reports of damage, so I'm guessing all is well over there. Downtown Charleston had "the big one" back in 1886, and people keep speculating about whether we're due for another. Hurricanes, earthquakes.....this is a lovely place we live, huh?

A college friend passed away last night. I swear, we're not supposed to be old enough for this to happen. She was only 34, recently diagnosed with kidney cancer, and just went so fast....it's really scary. Had 3 kids, aged 4 and under. What a sad thing to happen, especially at Christmas. She'd been in Band and Orchestra with K and I, and I'd lost touch with her until just the last few months......found her on Facebook. I read the posts on her blog daily, and was so sad to see the update this morning saying she was gone. But I"m so amazed and touched by the people that are commenting--so many people from all around the world that her story has touched, even people that don't know her at all were following the story and praying for her, etc. They all have such wonderful things to say about her, and they all demonstrate such amazing faith in how they are dealing with the loss. Even her own husband's post to announce her passing starts with the words "God is good!" I can't help but think that my own faith is not equal to his and that I'm not sure I could react this same way if I were in his shoes. Bless him, for being able to rejoice in the fact that she's out of pain and has gone to Heaven.

Back in the mundane world around here....E's teacher at the new preschool is on vacation this week. So guess what? He had his very first "bad day" yesterday, complete with hitting and being sent up to the director's desk for time out. *sigh* *big big sigh* What it shows us, I suppose, is that the regular teacher has a LOT to do with his recent success in the new preschool. Thank God for the assistant director, who spoke to me privately yesterday to point out that the younger teachers who are subbing for Ms. S this week are not always able to manage E as well as Ms. S does, so consequently we shouldn't be too hard on him or be too surprised if this week's behavior is not as good as usual. Yeah, but.......he's just building friendships with these kids, etc, and now he gets to ruin it all by hitting them and getting THAT reputation as a kid who gets in trouble and can't behave, etc. *sigh*

Lastly, tonight's THE night, for A's dramatic debut as the King in the holiday show. Please wish us luck, as I'm petrified he'll have some kind of meltdown, forget his lines, refuse to put on the costume, etc. If things go well, hopefully I"ll have some pics to post later. Keep us in your thoughts tonight!

Monday, December 8, 2008

random stuff in the world of stress

OMG, the last week of my life could be the model for the phrase "week from hell". Concerts galore to organize and conduct, preparing for the end of the semester, church preparations for Christmas events....basically, just way too much to do and WAY too little time. It felt like I was crawling verrrrrry slowly through a tunnel or a cave. A dark cave, very narrow, just pushing my way through and working toward that light at the other end. Keeping my head down and my movements forward until I make it through.

And now, all of a sudden, I'm out. Sun is shining, I can breathe, the weight is off of my shoulders (for now) and I can re-emerge into the real world of the holiday season as a Mom, wife, etc. Because last week, I was basically nothing but a teacher, and a frantically stressed one at that.

So now, I'm reflecting and trying to think back to enjoy some of the random wonderful moments that have occurred recently........but I was too swamped with everything else to even really appreciate them. Thought I'd share them with you too. :)

Little E just amazes me sometimes with his philosophical comments and observations. Out of the mouths of babes, right? Like last night, after I read his nighttime books and we were turning off the light and saying a prayer. He said he wanted to say a "forgive us" prayer, so I said that was great and he could go first. So he said "God, I know you want to forgive us, from our sins, but I just don't know how you do it." My jaw dropped, and I almost even laughed (but didn't) just out of shock and amazement. How profound, and I presume that this statement is something that many, many people can agree with.

His new fav Christmas special this season is Frosty. The original, of course.....accept no substitutes. :) So we've watched it over, and over, and over. That poor VHS tape is about to give up the ghost, but hopefully it'll last another couple of weeks. During one watching, I was joking with him about how Frosty's first words are "Happy Birthday". I said something like "why does he say that? That's so silly". My mini-philosopher's response? "He says it because Christmas is Jesus' birthday!" Duh, Mom, why couldn't you figure that out yourself? Seriously, I never thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense and it sure did seem logical and matter-of-fact to him.

Ok, one more..........A finally found out on Friday about something I've known for weeks and very painfully kept secret: He's getting the lead role of King Wenceslas in the school K-2 holiday show. His teacher called me mid-day to let him tell me on the phone, because he was so overwhelmed, touched and excited by this that he couldn't stand to wait for telling me. The teachers said they were crying too, seeing him so surprised and happy and crying. Said it was like he'd won an Academy Award or something. I even was greeted that afternoon at the door of his school by a teacher saying "Aren't you the mother of the King?" :) :) :) My only regret is that I couldn't be there to see it when he was told. He loves that school so much, loves performing, takes it all so seriously and works so hard on preparing his songs, etc......I'm biased, but no one deserves this honor more. And he will be a fabulous King, I have no doubt.

17 days until Christmas......keep your eyes out for posts and pics more in keeping with the season---our tree, the kids decorating gingerbread men, shopping tales, etc. No more bitching (for now) about stupid school-related stuff. I'm getting my priorities back in order, starting now.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm quitting

Is that ok? Just to get in the car and start driving, keep going until the gas runs out? Forget school, forget obligations, forget trying to do the jobs of 2 or 3 people and failing miserably?

2 straws have broken the proverbial "camel's back" this morning. First, I find out that I"m going to be running a dress rehearsal with 40 students after school on Thursday BY MYSELF! No piano accompanist, no help of any kind, just me. The groups sound like crap too, for the most part. No one practices, no one seems to put much time or effort into any of it, but yet they expect miraculous things to happen just by freaking osmosis?!?!?!?!? Right, sure.

And then there's this......K and I are supposed to both attend an ALL DAY Band event in January, on a Saturday. We've done it every January for the last 15 years, as long as we've taught Band. When the kids came along, it got harder to manage, but somehow we've always done it. It's an audition day for students, and if a school has students involved then the director must serve as a judge. The audition site is nearly 2 hours away, and we're there from (I'm not kidding) 7:30 am until at least 5 pm, usually later.

In years past, I've driven cross-state to get my mother and bring her down here (she won't/can't drive here herself) so that she can stay at my house and be the all day babysitter. Then, the next day, I drive her back home. That means a total of 12 hours of driving, not to mention the 4 we drive to and from the audition. But with my increased teaching schedule this year, I really don't see a way to do this (drive to get Mom), so we're in quite a pickle. K emailed the very-single-uber-Band-nerd-jock supervisor of this audition, to ask respectfully if I could be excused from judging this year. Rules say that if you don't judge, your kids don't play.

The response? "I can't excuse anyone for personal reasons." WTF? What kind of reasons DO you excuse people for? Seems like personal reasons are the ONLY ones that would merit an excuse. I have a grand total of 2 (TWO) students auditioning.





Get the point? He's going to make us find a babysitter (nearly impossible) and then pay them some exorbitant amount for a 12 hour day just so I can come up there and listen to a day full of incorrectly played scales just because I have 2 students involved in this event. This man is such an idiot, so out of touch with real life. No kids of his own, never married, lives and breathes Band and has no concept of anything else, including tact (I know this from past dealings with him).

Guess what, dude? Life does not revolve around Band. It just doesn't. There is more to life, and sometimes grownups (i.e. me and K) have other responsibilities, other priorities beyond stupid Band competitions. If you had a life, you might realize that and have some compassion or flexibility when real life intersects with the all-powerful rules of the band director's association. Please, give me a freaking break. This just makes me want to yank my 2 students out and say "screw you". Then what would you do for a judge? Oh yeah, you'd make do with the people you have, many of which come to that audition every year and sit on their butt all day because they're your cronies. So couldn't you just do that anyway? Oh, but that would mean showing something resembling a heart, and I've yet to be convinced that you have one.

Oh, and did I mention that I already go (as a volunteer) to help at a second Band audition every year? It's not required, but they ask me and I enjoy it. And I go because K can keep the kids, and it works out well. K reminded the supervisor of this, my going "above and beyond", and wondered if this could somehow be counted for my obligation. You can guess the answer for yourself. Jerk. What an absolute jerk. Hope you never need anyone to make an exception for you, to show understanding of a difficult situation. If you do need that, don't come looking to me for it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

not like you see in the movies

Last year, we discovered that even in the humid, sandy Lowcountry there are Christmas tree farms. The kind of places that let you roam around until you find the perfect tree, cut it down yourself and haul it home. For some reason, I just figured those only existed up north, or in the mountains or Colorado or something like that.....but, turns out SC has several of them, and a couple within decent driving distance for us. So we went, had a blast, and determined that this was what we wanted to do every year from now on. So much more like the "traditional Christmas" that you read about, see in movies, etc.

Fast forward about 365 days, and it's time for the 2nd annual family-trek-to-the-tree-farm. Except this time, it's already been pouring rain for 24 hours, and there's no end in sight. But looking at the family calendar of the next few weeks showed absolutely NO other day to do this, and we're used to getting the tree up on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, so off we went at about 1 pm. The boys were in their old sneakers, we had an umbrella in the van somewhere.......I think......What could go wrong?

How about everything? That tree farm should have advertised itself as "tree bog", I kid you not. Practically every square foot of land was underwater, puddles as far as the eye can see, and any "land" you did see turned out to be more like mud or quicksand once you stepped on it. We tried it, and within the first 2 minutes the boys and I had soaking wet shoes and muddy pants legs. Yuck! I gave up and waded back to stand next to the car in a relatively dry spot. K put E on his shoulders, and A followed behind as they pushed on into the plot of trees. K had to shout to me "do you like this one? What about that one? Doesn't it seem lopsided?" etc until we finally settled on one. I persuaded the boys to make their way back through the puddles to the car, then I took their disgusting shoes off. Eww, and they were nasty. They were each sitting sideways in their carseats, feet sticking out of the car door so I could take off socks too, which were dripping wet. And you can imagine that there was no way for me to hold that elusive umbrella, so I was getting wetter by the second. Finally, I got into the driver's seat, took my own shoes off and knocked them against the outside of the car door in a futile attempt to get mud off.

Whew, closed the car door and we were safe. Not dry yet, but safe from further drenching. Until K came to the door and reminded me I needed to write the check to pay for the damn tree.........I'm not even sure the check will be accepted by their bank, based on how wet it was by the time I got finished. Is there a a maximum on water droplets per square inch? I think we passed it.

Can I just say that today was NOT that idyllic, beautiful, traditional Christmas family outing? The tree's up, it's dry, it's decorated and it is truly pretty. Maybe one of our prettiest ever. But the process? Not something I want to repeat. Next year, I'm checking the weather forecast before we decide where to buy the tree.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Well, I've been tagged.....by Jen at Unique But Not Alone. The instructions are these:

1--choose the 4th picture folder on my computer
2--choose the 4th picture
3--explain the picture
4--tag 4 other people

Here's the pic:


This is A at his 6th birthday party, a bowling party. One of his buddies is the kid with the awesome blond hair, and E has his back to the camera.

This is fun, thanks Jen. :) Ok, now I'm tagging Tafka at House of Tafka , Heather at Bubbles and Ducks , Betsy at Belphia, and Sarah at Two Princesses, a Queen and and old Frog . Have fun, girls!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I wanna go!!!!!!!

I just need a place to whine, to vent a minute. What else is new, you say? Yeah yeah yeah, shut up, it's my blog, after all, right? ;)

I'm involved in an online support group and forum for Parents of Children with Autism, and through that group have made some really wonderful friends. So many of the ladies there are so incredibly strong, so wise, so knowledgeable, and funny and sweet to boot. Why am I telling you all this?

Well, a group of them is planning a trip to Vegas, coming up in February 2009. So now, on the forum, they're chatting about plans, ideas, where to stay, what to do or see, etc. WAAAAHHHHHHH, I wanna go. :( It's not gonna happen, no matter how much I need it.

They're planning on doing such fun stuff.....time at a spa, maybe some shows, gamble a bit, hanging out with the girls and some cocktails, etc. And I NEED this so much, after the last few months we've had around this house. But 2009 is going to be such a busy and expensive year for us, there's just no way. Going to Disneyworld next summer, still hoping to move across town to get closer to school and work, etc.......there is not a spare $1000 lying around to send me to Vegas for the girls weekend.

Sometimes, I feel like my life and experiences have been so incredibly limited. Never left the lower 48 states, not even to cross the border into Canada for an afternoon like K has. And it's looking like I never will. I want to travel, I want to see things and learn things and do things.......but until teachers start getting paid like doctors or lawyers, I'll be staying home. And that includes Vegas. :(

better than I could say it

Today's posted is something borrowed, shared with me by a great cyber-friend, a sister just like the ones described below......

To You, My Sisters

by Maureen K. Higgins -

Many of you I have never even met face to face, but
I've searched you out every day. I've looked for you
on the Internet, on playgrounds and in grocery stores.

I've become an expert at identifying you. You are well
worn. You are stronger than you ever wanted to be.
Your words ring experience, experience you culled with
your very heart and soul. You are compassionate beyond
the expectations of this world. You are my "sisters."

Yes, you and I, my friend, are sisters in a sorority.
A very elite sorority. We are special. Just like any
other sorority, we were chosen to be members. Some of
us were invited to join immediately, some not for
months or even years. Some of us even tried to refuse
membership, but to no avail.

We were initiated in neurologist's offices and NICUs, in obstetrician's offices, in emergency rooms, and during ultrasounds. We were initiated with somber
telephone calls, consultations, evaluations, blood
tests, x-rays, MRI films, and heart surgeries.

All of us have one thing in common. One day things
were fine. We were pregnant, or we had just given
birth, or we were nursing our newborn, or we were
playing with our toddler. Yes, one minute everything
was fine. Then, whether it happened in an instant, as
it often does, or over the course of a few weeks or
months, our entire lives changed. Something wasn't
quite right. Then we found ourselves mothers of
children with special needs.

We are united, we sisters, regardless of the diversity
of our children's special needs. Some of our children
undergo chemotherapy. Some need respirators and
ventilators. Some are unable to talk, some are unable
to walk. Some eat through feeding tubes. Some live in
a different world. We do not discriminate against
those mothers whose children's needs are not as
"special" as our child's. We have mutual respect and
empathy for all the women who walk in our shoes.

We are knowledgeable. We have educated ourselves with
whatever materials we could find. We know "the"
specialists in the field. We know "the" neurologists,
"the" hospitals, "the" wonder drugs, "the" treatments.
We know "the" tests that need to be done, we know
"the" degenerative and progressive diseases and we
hold our breath while our children are tested for
them. Without formal education, we could become board
certified in neurology, endocrinology, and psychology.

We have taken on our insurance companies and school
boards to get what our children need to survive, and
to flourish. We have prevailed upon the State to
include augmentative communication devices in special
education classes and mainstream schools for our
children with cerebral palsy. We have labored to prove
to insurance companies the medical necessity of gait
trainers and other adaptive equipment for our children
with spinal cord defects. We have sued municipalities
to have our children properly classified so they could
receive education and evaluation commensurate with
their diagnosis. We have learned to deal with the rest
of the world, even if that means walking away from it.

We have tolerated scorn in supermarkets during
"tantrums" and gritted our teeth while discipline was
advocated by the person behind us on line. We have
tolerated inane suggestions and home remedies from
well-meaning strangers. We have tolerated mothers of
children without special needs complaining about
chicken pox and ear infections. We have learned that
many of our closest friends can't understand what it's
like to be in our sorority, and don't even want to

We have our own personal copies of Emily Perl
Kingsley's "A Trip To Holland" and Erma Bombeck's "The
Special Mother". We keep them by our bedside and read
and reread them during our toughest hours. We have
coped with holidays. We have found ways to get our
physically handicapped children to the neighbors'
front doors on Halloween, and we have found ways to
help our deaf children form the words, "trick or
treat." We have accepted that our children with
sensory dysfunction will never wear velvet or lace on
Christmas. We have painted a canvas of lights and a
blazing Yule log with our words for our blind
children. We have pureed turkey on Thanksgiving. We
have bought white chocolate bunnies for Easter. And
all the while, we have tried to create a festive
atmosphere for the rest of our family. We've gotten up
every morning since our journey began wondering how
we'd make it through another day, and gone to bed
every evening not sure how we did it.

We've mourned the fact that we never got to relax and
sip red wine in Italy. We've mourned the fact that our
trip to Holland has required much more baggage than we
ever imagined when we first visited the travel agent.
And we've mourned because we left for the airport
without most of the things we needed for the trip.

But we, sisters, we keep the faith always. We never
stop believing. Our love for our special children and
our belief in all that they will achieve in life knows
no bounds. We dream of them scoring touchdowns and
extra points and home runs.

We visualize them running sprints and marathons. We
dream of them planting vegetable seeds, riding horses
and chopping down trees. We hear their angelic voices
singing Christmas carols. We see their palettes
smeared with watercolors, and their fingers flying
over ivory keys in a concert hall. We are amazed at
the grace of their pirouettes. We never, never stop
believing in all they will accomplish as they pass
through this world.

But in the meantime, my sisters, the most important
thing we do, is hold tight to their little hands as
together, we special mothers and our special children,
reach for the stars.
I know that many of you who read this blog are also my sisters, in this special way. If you are, I send you extra ((((((((((hugs))))))))))) and want you to know how much I appreciate your support, understanding, and friendship.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

something happy for a change

....and damn it, it's about time. :)

Went to pick up A from school yesterday, driving around in the car loop, waiting my turn to drive up to the sidewalk and have a teacher open the van door to put him inside. (gotta love elementary school!) The music teacher happened to be the one helping him today, and as she helps him step up into the van, she says to me "I need to talk to you" in a very serious-sounding tone and serious face.

Fear grips my heart, wondering what on earth had happened today......a major meltdown, horrible teasing and making-fun of him, he said or did something totally inappropriate, etc. She closed the van door behind him, and walked around to my side. Still looked very serious, and says to me "do NOT say a word" and then leans in to whisper to me. She also said to A "cover your ears, I need to tell Mom a secret" which he did, without hesitation.

Then, up close, she started smiling and said "Mr. D (drama teacher) and I have talked over who should get special parts in the Christmas show, and we want A to be the King!" I smiled too, naturally, and clarified that she wants me to wait for them to tell him, not to reveal it myself, and she agreed. Apparently, the King is "Good King Wenceslas" and this is basically the lead part!

We said goodbye, and then he took his hands off of his ears, and said "is it a secret just for grownups?" I said yes, that for now it was just something for grownups to know. But wow, this is HARD to keep this secret from him, and from the world. I'm soooooo very proud of him and excited for this recognition! Thank you, Lord, for giving us the opportunity to send our kids to this wonderful school with wonderful teachers! :) Way to go, little man. Pics to come......the Christmas show is Dec. 16.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

a turning point, maybe

The last week has been one of the most stressful I've had in a long time. Maybe among the most stressful ever. We've pretty much run the whole spectrum of emotions.....fear, anger, resentment, worry, relief, even faint hope. I'm just working to take this one day at a time, and to focus on the small victories as they come. :)

How did this week from hell start? With me being told that E will no longer be allowed to attend the preschool he's been in since he was 5 months old. Even though I just typed that sentence, I still find it somewhat hard to believe this really happened. And now, almost a week removed from the initial shock, I have been able to put a thin layer of gauze over the wound. It'll heal, but it'll take a while, and right under the surface is some pretty hefty anger and bitterness.

Sometimes, I just want to rip that gauze off and wallow in the anger a little.....do you mind? I just want to ask "who do these jerks think they are?" Discussing my little man among themselves, and then ganging up to call the school en masse to complain. Claiming all kinds of BS, like their kids are scared of E.

PLEASE, give me a damn break!

Most of these people live in an entirely different world than we do, and our little circles only intersect in this one place, that preschool. I can say pretty comfortably that the parenting lives of these people have NO similarity to mine, and that they have no experience with or sympathetic view of anything resembling special needs. All they know is that little princess doesn't want to be in class with that boy anymore, or they don't want her exposed to that kind of child (who obviously must have horrible parents that either 1) do not discipline him or 2) need to pursue psychiatric care for him).

Excuse the hell out of me, people. Didn't realize that your child's education was so incredibly hampered by being in class with my son. I thought maybe the problem was the teachers who have no control of the class, or the overcrowded room with too many kids, or the numerous other kids who don't listen/can't stay still/can't keep hands to themselves. And by the way, in case you forgot.........they're freakin' 4 YEARS OLD!!!!!!!! This is not life and death, people, nor does it ruin their chances for going to Harvard or being Miss S. C. if they have to suffer through K4 with a child who might have different needs and challenges.

But you know what? You know who has the last laugh? We do, thank you very much. Because now, E is a successful, participating member of another K4 class, a smaller class with a better teacher, better curriculum, more space, and better facilities. And he's happy. And behaving well. And learning. And excited about school.

So you take your precious little children to your school every day, ok? And just keep on deluding yourself, thinking that you "won" and relishing the feeling of power in knowing that you ran off a 4 year old. You made the director cave, and flexed your muscles (i.e. money) to get what you wanted. Never mind the years worth of work and service I've dedicated to that place. Never mind the loyalty, never mind the connections we have. Screw that. Bottom line, YOU couldn't meet my son's needs. That's clear, now that we have found a place that can. So we're better off, and I'm closing the door on that part of my life, and his.

(that felt good, thanks for listening) :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Damn preeclampsia!

That's what I feel like saying today. Saying it LOUDLY, screaming it from the rooftops for anyone who's listening to hear! Damn preeclampsia!!!!!

I need a scapegoat, that's my current problem. I need someone or something to blame, to be mad at, to hate for the things that have been done to my family. And the nearest and most logical scapegoat is preeclampsia.

Isn't it PEs fault that my babies were born far too early, too small and too sick? If not for PE, I might have enjoyed a normal, happy, healthy pregnancy. Might have gone through labor rather than having 2 c-sections. Might have brought my babies home with me in 2 days, rather than 2 or 3 months.

And it's not just about pregnancy and birth.....if not for PE, my children might very well be neurotypical today, normally and typically developing little boys with normal, typical lives. Seems weird to wish for typicality, to wish for ordinary-ness, but I do. Without preeclampsia, which then caused the prematurity, A might not be on the autism spectrum, and E might not have ADHD and severe aggression and impulsivity.

Maybe it's ridiculous to blame it all on the preeclampsia, but somehow it helps. Gives me something to lash out at, something to hate, something to focus the anger and the hurt on. And it does hurt, all the time. Maybe that's pathetic, considering my last bout with PE was nearly 5 years ago. But because its effects are so long-lasting in my kids' lives, and in MY life, it doesn't seem to matter how long ago it was. I HATE preeclampsia! May the researchers find a cure for it, soon, and a way to prevent other families from having to suffer pain and loss because of it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Scared and sad

I think this must be what depression is. I've experienced it before, and don't remember feeling quite like this, but I just know I feel the classic way you hear depression described as.......tired, sad, feel like just crawling into bed and staying there. I'm not keeping up with stuff for school (work) the way I need to be....it's easier to procrastinate and let things slide. Takes all of the effort I can muster, sometimes, to do anything but just sit in front of the computer and go back and forth between the websites I visit. I nearly couldn't get up and make dinner for my children tonight, I kid you not.

And the biggest reason for this "funk", this emotionally exhausting and draining depression phase? My youngest, little E, my micropreemie miracle. Every day brings new lows in his behavior, at home and at school, and it's so scary to see this precious little guy with the sweet lispy voice get so very angry and lash out......at me, at teachers, at friends, at everyone. He has literally no impulse control, seemingly nothing inside that pulls him back or stops him from doing the first thing that comes to mind when he gets upset or mad.

In one of those bizarre, random trains of thought that I sometimes have, I was reminded today of the play "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller. One of my favs, but I digress. It's a depiction of the Salem Witch Trials. At least one man, as I remember, was accused of witchcraft and killed, but he wasn't hung, he was "pressed to death". He was made to lay on the ground, and heavy stones were placed on his chest, one by one. Guess the accusers thought that he'd eventually give in and admit to being a witch, but he didn't. They say his last words were "More weight". He knew he was innocent, and was determined not to admit to something he hadn't done.

Why the hell did she tell us that story? you might ask. Well, you know my love of metaphors, and right now I feel like I'm getting the "pressed to death" treatment too. Every day, a new heavy stone is added to the weight I'm carrying, worrying how to help E and what on earth we can do about all this. "He kicked Miss Mary today" = add another stone. "He was so hyper, couldn't calm down, and then he bit Sara" = another stone. "We just didn't know what to do for him this morning, sent him to the director's office twice because he was throwing chairs" = another stone.

When does the weight get to be too much? When it crushes me? How far am I from that point? Is there a way to lift some of the weight off? I'd do it in a second, if I knew how. Instead, I just slog onward.....eating my way into oblivion and barely getting through the days. Can't keep up with anything, or so it seems, and when I do have a spare few minutes to do something productive, I usually can't bring myself to do it. Too hard, too much effort needed, I'm not up to it. I know that this isn't healthy. If you're a praying person, send some our way, would you? Thanks. Something's gotta give, as they say, but we just don't know yet what (or who) that something will be. :(

Friday, November 7, 2008

the post-election wrap up

Well, I said something about this in my last post about the blog award, but just felt like it wasn't enough. No words, truthfully, would be enough to really do justice to how it feels to have won this election.

Does that sound weird? Are you thinking "does she really think SHE won it?" Well, as a matter of fact, I do. But not just me. All of us, all Americans. I am fully aware that several million people disagree with me right now, and might never be convinced, but that's ok because the freedom to dissent is part of what the Founders wanted and part of what makes America great.

Nevertheless, I'm convinced and I know in my heart that our country was the true winner on Tuesday. With Barack Obama as our next President, I feel hopeful about the country's future again. We can regain our standing and respect in the world, and begin to bring the troops home from Iraq, finally. We can show respect and consideration for the rights of all, not just a few. I will be able to watch video of our President in public appearances without cringing in embarrassment; thank God for someone who can complete a coherent sentence and will speak respectfully, intelligently, and without the ever-present smirk and condescension.

Diversity will not be a bad word, or just a catchword, but a reality! And yet, having said that.....I believe that my family and I have infinitely more in common with the Obamas than with the Bushes, despite the differences in skin color. Maybe we can actually not just embrace diversity, but some kind of "post-diversity", because the more we learn about so-called "diverse" people, the more we often find that we are alike, not different.

So, let's send Mrs. Palin back where she came from, and hope she won't be heard from again anytime soon. She needs some time to find a publication or two she wants to read, after all. As for John McCain...I just shake my head at the thought of what could have been. I admired you, even thought I could support you as a candidate, once upon a time in 2000. But you sold your soul, sacrificed your own standards of acceptable campaign behavior, all for the chance to be President. And where did it get you? Nowhere except back to the Senate. Don't you feel dirty now, after the tactics you used and allowed your people to use? What a shame....you used to stand for something, and now you stand for nothing but yourself.

But let's end on a high note, shall we? The moment, at 11 pm EST on Tuesday night, when the networks called it and proclaimed that Barack Obama would in fact be the next President.....I get chills thinking of it. It was like a comforting wave washing over me as I heard the words, and I just sat mesmerized in front of the TV, drinking it all in. After the seemingly endless nightmare of the last 8 years, it's still hard to believe it's about to end. Congratulations, Mr. President-elect. A music teacher and her family from South Carolina are immensely proud of you, and are beaming inside with a bright blue light in the crowded sea of red around us. Thank you for all you have done, and for what you will do, and may God protect you, your family, and our country.

I feel special!

Thanks, Miss Tafka, for bestowing on me my first ever blog award! WOO HOO!!!! I love blogging, don't get to do it often enough these days, but am really honored to have this award and be able to display the award banner here---> :)

Anyway, the receiving the award means you need to list 6 things that make you happy. So, here goes:

(in no particular order)

1. performing music. I'm an instrumentalist first, and a singer second, even though these days there's much more singing than playing going on in my life. But getting the chance to be a part of good musical performance is a feeling that cannot be duplicated any other way. I'm so thankful for the gift of music and the ability to perform, and hope that I will always have that opportunity, one way or another.

2. the election of Barack Obama as our next President. (you knew that was coming, huh?) It renews my faith in the political process, and in the people of this country and their ability to be inspired and excited about government and our leaders. No, this won't solve all of our problems, and I know the road ahead for him will be tough, but the fact that he fought his way through the lies and smear campaigns and came out on top........gives me chills just to think of it, even now.

3. Seeing things through the eyes of my boys. When we go to new places, see new things, or enjoy special times like Halloween or Christmas, it makes those events so much MORE special when I see how much the boys are enjoying themselves. Watching them get excited about what Santa brought, or splashing in the ocean, or even watching a cool new movie.....you can't beat that for instantly putting a smile on your face. :)

4. Driving. At least, most of the time. Let me rephrase that: The part of driving that involves movement, NOT sitting in traffic jams, is the part I enjoy. I really do like it, strange as that seems! LOL, maybe I ought to have been a truck driver! Guess it's a good thing I've got a decent-sized commute every day to school. ;)

5. The endless variety of things to listen to on Sirius satellite radio. :) Great talk radio stations (lots more progressive choices than you hear around this area....), every kind of music format you can imagine, great comedy stations, news, old radio shows from the 40s/50s etc, even a station for the kids' music. (*see #4, about driving. These two go hand in hand most of the time, because when else do I get a chance to listen to the radio?)

6. My hubby. Not like we see each other much these days, with the busy school/work activities that we both have going on night and day, but I still wanted him to be on this list. He's a great guy, great dad, tries hard to help out around the house when he can, etc. I know how lucky I am to have him, and hope that he realizes how much he is appreciated. :)

There ya go, Lori. :) Thanks again for the award, I love it! Now, I think I"m supposed to pass it on, right? And like you, I know so many of the same blogging friends that it's hard to find 6 to give the award to, so.......I'll just choose Jen at Unique but Not Alone, and Betsy at Belphia. Congrats girls, hope you like the award as much as I do! :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I don't like those wires

In the last week or so, little E (the 4 year old, former micropreemie) has gotten really interested in looking at his baby photo album. The one that has the pics of him from birth until age 9 months or so. He wants to carry it around the house with him, and if I dare put it back on the shelf where it belongs, he gets it back down and asks for one of us to look at it with him.

It's amazing, isn't it, how the littlest of kids can sometimes say the biggest things? The things that just pierce your heart and throw you for a loop? Well, sometimes I think my boys are the champions at doing just that. When E first took out the photo album last week, and looked at those first few pictures of him in the first days of life, he asked me "what are all those wires, Mom?" Pang-in-the-heart #1. "Well, those were wires that connected you to machines that helped to take care of you after you were born." "You remember that you were a baby in the hospital?" (that's the phrase he and A use to describe preemies) "Yeah, I remember."

"Well, that means that you were sick when you were born, and needed the doctors and nurses to take care of you for a while." "What about that one?", motioning to the nasal cannula that gave him oxygen. "That helped you to breathe, it blew air into your nose so that you could breathe better."

Then he did it, the pang-in-the-heart to top them all: "I don't like those wires on me, Mom". Guess what, buddy? Neither do I. :( Oh how I wish that your newborn pictures, your first 3 months worth of pictures, didn't have "those wires" in them.

Every day since then, as he looks at those early pics, he'll say it again: "but I don't like those wires". Our saved pics on the computer come up now as the screen saver......it scrolls through a random assortment of pics until you tell it to stop, basically. Tonight, he said it again, while sitting in K's lap at the desk. "There's me when I was a baby, but I don't like those wires, Dad."

"I know, hon, I don't like them either."


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Did you ever wonder.....?

...about the twists and turns of life, and how seemingly random occurrences can have such a long-lasting impact? Maybe it's just me, I'm weird and I think about these kind of things.

You know the stuff I mean, the ways in which certain people pass through your life, and end up becoming big parts of it. If you'd never met them, if you'd not gone to that party or chosen a different college or driven down a different street (literally), your whole existence might be different today. Not necessarily bad or good, just different.

I think these kinds of thoughts maybe occur more often for parents like me.....parents of preemies, of special needs kids, of challenging parenting situations, etc. It's easy, sometimes, to wallow in the worries and the fears and the self-talk of "but if I'd only...." or "if I just had not done....". You can beat yourself to a bloody emotional pulp doing that, trust me. But it doesn't change the reality of daily life, doesn't make things easier to deal with along the way......in fact, it might make it worse.

Even if I start my "what ifs" with the fact that the boys WERE preemies, don't even go back beyond that.....I can see how the entire path of my life has been forever altered by that fact. Practically every single move I've made since Aug. 2001 has been somehow influenced by this--career moves, where we live, where we send the kids to school, how I spend my days and nights, etc.

All the things that I knew absolutely ZIP about before that time, I now know intimately, things like what the NICU is, what Asperger's Syndrome means, how it feels to give your child medications (and I don't mean stuff like Tylenol). If you'd asked me what acronyms like these stood for, I probably couldn't have deciphered even one, but now........

Why don't you try it? It'll be a fun game!

As, Bs and Ds

...and that's just off of the top of my head. If I'm 100% completely honest with myself, I will admit that I didn't want this, didn't choose this road and often find myself wishing I wasn't on it. I never knew squat about IEPs and 504 plans in schools, and would have been just fine thank you very much not to have ever known about them. I would have been just fine to not ever see the inside of a therapist's office, or to have one see the inside of my house.

But thanks to a great friend, who blogs here, I'm taking another look today at the bright side of my life, the side in which I recognize how truly blessed I am to have these 2 amazing sons. 15 or 20 years ago, neither would have even survived their birth, probably, or would just have lasted a few hours or days. And just as I now can't imagine life without therapy and diagnosis and disability and struggle, I also can't imagine it without A and E, the lights of my life. When they smile, when they hug me, when they say "I love you, Mom", I know that I'd rather be on this road than on no road at all. Any day, any time, put the path in front of me and I'll follow it. Therapists? Bring 'em on. Behavior plans, medications? Where do I sign up? Because if that's what it takes to make the best life possible for my two little miracles, how can I do anything less?

Lord, I pray for strength, for perseverance, for patience and creativity, and the ability to care for and nurture these boys in the ways that are best for them. Amen.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

musings on a Thursday

Ok, so I promise I'll spare you an extended political rant today. Really. I have become addicted to the website and will just summarize last night's debate with the comment written on that site at 10:31 last night......"Congratulations, President Obama". :)

So what about regular, day-to-day life in Lowcountry SC? It's ok, still WAY too hot for Oct. 16, I'll say that. Little E is having a pretty good week, we're still struggling with the regulation of his medicine. What medicine, you say? Well, let me remind you or fill you in if you missed this development......

Well, the developmental pediatrician gave him the expected ADHD diagnosis a few weeks ago (early Sept.). I knew, in my heart, that it was coming, and the more I read and hear about the H part of ADHD, the more it confirms my fears. It's so common in former preemies, especially micros like E, so I guess it was nearly unavoidable. We started on Tenex, a very small dose, and have been watching and tweaking for a month and a half now.

We went from 1/2 mg in the morning to 1 mg, because he was still exhibiting a lot of the aggressive and impulsive symptoms that the medicine is supposed to address. 1 mg was WAY too much, and made him very, very lethargic--all he wanted to do was lay on the bed at home, and at school he was falling asleep in his lunch. :( We went back to 3/4 mg, and it worked for a while but the effectiveness faded and we STILl saw the impulsive behaviors. (Disclaimer--all kids can be impulsive, and he is only 4, but it's not ok to hit/bite/kick teachers and friends, or to blurt things out loudly and over and over in class)

So, pedi said to try going back up to 1 mg, that maybe his body was ready for that now since he was used to 3/4 mg already. She said to give it at least a week for the side effects to settle down and to really see the effectiveness (or lack?). Yesterday was 1 week, and Tuesday was really the first day we didn't see the sleepiness. I hate seeing him like that, it kills me. He's got such a sparkly and sweet personality (I know, you're thinking ? considering I just said that he hits and kicks people.....it's complicated) He's typically so curious, creative, sweet, funny, energetic, and when the meds are too much we just lose that, we lose HIM along with those undesired behaviors. :( :( :( Maybe, just maybe, we've found the dose that now can strike the balance.....keeping what makes him "him", but muting those behaviors that aren't socially acceptable and aren't going to be ok in elementary school and beyond. Wish us luck, and keep us in your prayers too.

Postscript: There's just so much about being a parent that I never knew, never even thought I'd have to experience. I can truly say that parenting is the toughest and most rewarding job of my life, AND that every part of it up to this point has been unexpected and different than what I imagined. For the bad, as well as for the good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

this crap is getting scary!

Of course, I mean the election/campaign process. I had a student last week tell me, unprovoked, that "if Obama wins, I'm moving to France". My response: "Are you packing your bags yet?" (yeah, I know, I probably shouldn't have but couldn't help it) And then, last Friday, another student saw my Obama bumper sticker, asked me if I support him, then went off on a rant about "the only thing he's going to do for you guys is....." . That's when I stopped listening, and interjected "what do you mean YOU guys? Wouldn't he be the president of everyone, don't we all live in the same country?" :(

And the news reports about the angry people at Republican events yelling "kill him" "terrorist" "traitor" "off with his head" "bomb Obama" etc. I'm sorry, but this is scary and ridiculous. I do not want John McCain to win, but would never shout things like that about him at any time in any situation. I absolutely cannot stand (read: HATE) President W, but would not say "kill him" or "terrorist" or anything like that, no matter how tempting it is.

We've lived the last 8 years with basically half of the country very unhappy, very disenchanted with the administration and way the country is being run. We feel that the election of 2000 was settled incorrectly, and that Bush should never have become president to start with. We feel that our country was taken to war when it shouldn't have been, and thousands of our brave soldiers died and were injured in that war when their lives and their efforts could have been put to much more use serving our country as whole, living people, not martyrs to a cause we don't agree with. But despite all this, despite the anger and frustration and disillusionment and sadness.....I do not say "Kill him" about President Bush, nor will I.

Shame on you, those that have shouted these epithets at the Republican events. You claim to be Americans, claim ownership of "family values" and being "pro-life".....how's that working out for you? Somehow the "kill him" doesn't quite jive with the pro-life agenda, at least not in my way of thinking.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

so very unfair

I tell you, if this is what getting older is like, you can have it because I don't want any.

In the last month, I've had a long time friend diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently have a mastectomy, another long time friend die suddenly of a heart attack at age 45, and today I learned that a wonderful friend and fellow preeclampsia survivor has lost her second baby, who was stillborn after suffering multiple heart defects.

It just seems like everywhere I look these days I see examples of how hard, unfair and even brutal life can be. It's not like this just occurred, and the world suddenly became a difficult place full of struggling, pain and loss. I know it's always been that way, and always will be, but I guess it's just hitting close to home right now.

I have wonderful networks of friends online, in both the autism and preeclampsia communities, and we all carry burdens each day. We like to share the weight of them by leaning on others, telling our stories, complaining, venting etc, but sometimes it seems like there's just so much weight to carry that even when we share we can't lift it. Moms of precious kids on the spectrum who hurt themselves and others, don't speak, are still in diapers, and the valiant families behind them who work hard every day to give them good lives and happiness. Ladies who can't conceive, or who did so but have lost a baby due to miscarriage or through stillbirth. Moms of preemies, who delivered babies far before their time and suffer through weeks or months of hospitalization and lifelong delays or disabilities. And on top of that, illnesses and deaths in my own circle of local friends.......sometimes I think this is just too hard.

Now I know what people mean when they talk about feeling like a hamster on that stupid wheel that they like to play on. You just keep running, keep trying, but never really get anywhere. You get up in the morning, get on the wheel, and valiantly begin. Work hard all day, only to feel like you're in the exact same place by nighttime (maybe even a bit further behind, if you're tired). Sleep a bit, get up and start it all over again. Is that why they call it a rat race?

I don't want it to be that way. I don't want to have my eyes fixed on the wheel and only the wheel........I want to notice what's around me, and allow myself to enjoy the little things that DO remind you that it's worth it, this thing called life. The way little E laughs, A's hugs and how he tells me he loves me so much that he can't even carry all of his love, smiles on the faces of students when they perform well and succeed. But those things are crowded out lately, by the losses and the pain and the struggle. I'm not so sure about that saying "that which does not kill us makes us stronger." That's looking like a pile of BS right now.

Monday, September 29, 2008

hello from Red State USA

Well, we're now down to just 34 days until the election. I can't believe it, this process seems like it's been going on forever! The first big debate was last Friday, and I was proud of the job Obama did in holding his own, looking distinguished, calm, and presidential. He sure didn't smirk, sneer, laugh or be sarcastic towards his opponent, unlike someone else I could name.........

On Saturday, I took A to a birthday party for a classmate. His school is small, and by now we pretty much know everyone in the 2nd grade (only about 75 kids total). Several of the same kids have been to a few parties recently, so I've chatted with their Moms. 2 Moms were at the last party as well as this one, and we talk "small talk" about the kids, the school (LOVE IT!), our families, etc. This time, though, "Mom 1" asked if we'd watched the debate. Both of us ("Mom 2" and me) said we had, although admitted it hesitantly. Mom 1 asks if we want to discuss it, and Mom 2 says that maybe she should say up front who we support before going down this road.

Mom 1 = McCain. Mom 2 = Obama. I jumped onboard once I knew I wouldn't be alone in defending O. I just didn't want to fight that battle and be outnumbered. After that, it was awkward but ok. We were all nice, civil, etc, but expressed ourselves. Mom 1 tells us "I just don't like the wife" which meant Michelle Obama. We asked why, she said "she seems like a Black Panther to me". WTF? We countered by saying how much Sarah P worries us, that she's so close to being president but is so unqualified, etc.

It just brings to my mind thoughts about how reluctant we Democrats have to be around here to admit who and what we are and what we believe. Thankfully, there are a few other Obama bumper stickers here in the parking lot of my school, but it's not like that community-wide or state-wide. SC is extremely Red, practically burgundy or maroon, even though it seems to be against the self-interest of a lot of our citizens for them to vote that way. I just got up the nerve about a month ago to put that Obama sticker on my car, and it' s not because I don't support him or fully believe in him, etc. It's that I just didn't want to "go there" by inviting snide remarks, arguments, or even attempts to run me off the road! It's never happened, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did. Good old SC is just chock full of people who think Obama is either: 1--the antichrist 2--a muslim or 3--both. And they won't listen to you tell them otherwise.

Ok, time to pray: Lord, help us as American citizens as we approach this important election. Help us to look and listen with open minds to what the candidates have to say, and to make informed and faithful choices based on that, NOT based on bigotry, ignorance, fear and a reluctance to fight the status quo. Please allow the man who is best suited for the job to win, and to bring a return of peace, safety and prosperity to our country. Amen.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

ups and downs, mostly downs

So, what have we been up to, you ask? Near-miss from Tropical Storm Hanna (or Tropicalanna as my A calls it), extra day off from school because of it, being "tourists in our own town" all weekend (because we can, LOL) and then there's me......vacillating between anger, sorrow, frustration and a desire to just give it all up and walk away. :(

E has finally been started on meds for the ADHD. I say "finally" because somewhere inside, I knew we'd eventually reach this point. Sooner or later, and it was sooner. I don't relish this fact, nor do I want to brag about it, but here we are. Started Wednesday on Tenex, which is not a stimulant and is supposed to help with calming and with reducing aggression, etc. The couple of weeks leading up to last Wednesday were nightmarish in terms of his behavior........preschool calling me several times, just to tell me how bad he was being and to describe his horrid exploits in detail (while I'm supposed to be teaching). When the doc at the ADHD clinic heard all this, she immediately suggested trying the meds now, since not much else we're doing seems to be working.

First couple of days on the meds seemed like miracles to me. I was calmer and more at peace with daily living than I can remember being in a long time. Last few days, not so much. It's making him too tired during the day, and when he's not overly tired he seems nearly as hyper and out of control as before. *sigh* Here we go on that roller coaster I've heard so much about, of adjusting dosages, trying new med after new med, etc. :(

And then there's A, and what happened at church this morning. Anyone who knows him knows that he's a hugger, no question. Hugs everyone, adults to kids, and it means nothing more than that he's excited to see you or to share something exciting with you. Nothing else, ever. I say all this because.....

We have told very few people at church about the Asperger's diagnosis, or being on the spectrum at all, really. It either hasn't come up or just wasn't necessary. Kind of nice, really, to just "pass" with the typical kids and not have to walk around with the scarlet A on his chest (and that A is not for his name, if you know what I mean). During the church services, A sits with various families out in the congregation, because K and I are always sitting up front with the choir. He's done this for several years and is totally fine with it. He's got his favorite families that he gravitates to, and they are (*or so I thought) fine with having A join them for an hour a week.

But today, after service, a man that I already dislike comes up to talk to me. He's a part of one of the families A sits with, and he sat there today. Rather than name this man, let's just call him Baldy. Baldy tells me "I know A's always been a close-space kind of guy, but today he was just getting a little TOO close with the girls, hugging them too tight, not letting go, etc. And ____________(another Dad who sat nearby) was really getting upset at the way A was hugging his daughter, so I tried to talk to A and tell him you need to back up, give the girls some space etc. But he didn't listen to me, so I thought I needed to let you know".

In shock, I said something like "ok, got it" and he moved on. But as minutes went by and I could think, I got more and more and more and more pissed off about this. These stupid, rich, bigoted, lily-white Republican men (and I mean that in the worst possible way) know NOTHING about my child and our reality with him. NOTHING. And to think that the dad of a 7 year old somehow thinks MY 7 year old is doing something inappropriate or even "sexual" by being in his daughter's personal space or hugging her too much/too firmly, is preposterous and insulting. Not to mention chicken-shit, considering that he wouldn't come and talk to us himself or ask questions to potentially learn more about A and why he might do this......oh no, we can't do that. Just send a lackey to come complain to me and talk in a patronizing way, dripping with sweetness and yet dripping with condescension at the same time. Basically saying "I know you guys don't teach this stuff to your kids, but do you mind helping us keep your little pervert's hands off of the angelic girls of this church?"

So I spent the rest of the day stewing over this. Stewing over how to explain this to Andrew in a way that's concrete enough for him to understand, remember and execute. Much easier said than done, for sure. And, stewing over how to respond to these losers in our church who have a problem with how A behaves. Still haven't decided, but I'm leaning towards doing some educating, throwing the ASD stuff in their faces and pointing out that A has no earthly clue what anything sexual is and DOES NOT mean anything inappropriate by his actions. And if the losers can't accept that, A will just sit somewhere else with some more open minded people. But that begs the question.......how will I explain to him that he can't sit with Baldy and crew anymore? :( :( :( :( :(

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Yeah, that's what I said, wanna make somethin' of it?

Ok, actually, it was little E who said this tonight, right before bedtime. He's currently Batman/Superfriends crazy, asking to watch them every single day after school. The old Justice League cartoon, even the old old old 60s TV show with Adam West, etc. Cracks me up to see him getting so into this!

Anyway, now he's calling everything a Bat-something.....in the same vein as Batmobile, Batcopter, etc. One episode we saw recently had a Bat-arang (yep, a boomerang in the shape of that Batman symbol). So, tonight he's playing with this weird contraption that looks a little like glasses. He puts them over his eyes like glasses, then says "Mom, these are my Bat-asses".

trying not to laugh, trying not to laugh, trying not to laugh..........

"What, honey? Did you say glasses?" "No, I said Bat-asses. Asses are the same thing as glasses". "Um, no honey, I don't think they are". "Uh huh, Mom, these are my Bat-asses, they help me see better!"

Then he runs away toward A's room, shouting to tell him: "Hey, come look at my Bat-asses!" So, what happens when he says this at school tomorrow? I figured if I enlightened him about how this actually wasn't a very nice word, don't say it, etc, it would just make him want to say it that much more. Hope I was right! Raising a bright little 4 year old boy sure is fun............LOL!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I need more arms, and more hours

Big A has really been enjoying that lovely summer TV staple, "American Gladiators". It's become an obsession of his, truth be told, although I really can't stand the damn thing. :( Anyway, there's an event on the show called Snapback. The contestant has a stretchy cord attached to a big harness around her waist. She tries to pull herself forward on all fours, almost like crawling, and the stretchy cord is held by the gladiator (who's obviously trying to keep her from getting anywhere).

The contestant pulls, strains, grasping for every centimeter she can move forward. As she gets ahead a bit, the name of the game comes into play, and she might Snapback if she loses tension on that stretchy cord. Often, you see a deadlock where the contestant just keeps on pulling, and so does the gladiator, and consequently neither one moves anywhere!

Bottom line, I need more arms. Oh, and a few more hours in the day would be nice too. School officially started for me last Wednesday, and DH and A start Monday (so E will too, going back to preschool). We've got a full life, and are so very blessed in so many ways, I realize this. But it's that freakin' Type A personality in me that can't stand for things not to be "right" or things to be left undone, etc. So when you factor in a new full time job (OMG, first time in 7 years), 2 crazy-active boys at 2 different schools, DH has basically 2 full time jobs, the house, the diabetic cat, both boys in therapies, I'm on 3 volunteer boards for various groups, church choir, community chorus.......I could get so much more done with another arm or two. Or three. Ok, four, tops.

And 24 hours is just not cutting it anymore. If I could eliminate the need for sleep, I'd be in great shape! I'm a night owl anyway, love to stay up and get work done, play online, blog , watch Michael Phelps try to win yet again, fold clothes, etc. But when the morning comes, GRRRRRRRR I hate to get up and I feel like crap. And then I say "I have GOT to stop staying up that late" but I never do. :( Everywhere I look in this house are things I need to do something with......file, clean, put away, fold, throw away, sort, give away, vacuum, reorganize, etc, but I never seem to be able to get to it all. And the Type A girl has a hard time seeing the value in just getting a little bit done--it's hard to say to myself "yeah, but I did get 2 pairs of pants hung into the closet, that's something......" Can I just burn the place down and start over?

So, anyone that knows how to distort time or make clocks stop, let me know, ok? Even like in the old Bewitched TV show, how she could just freeze a scene while she performed some magic or did something she didn't want anyone else to see.....that I could handle. Then, maybe I wouldn't feel so swamped, tired and depressed about all that I'm not getting done these days.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I'm so tired

It's little E this time, not A. And I just feel so beaten down where he's concerned, behaviorally speaking.

Since K and I are teachers, obviously one of the few perks of that job is having the summer off. We're on the same schedule as the kids, and can be home with them for great family time for all of June and most of July (before the dreaded band camp).

E's preschool, however, has a policy that you've got to continue paying your tuition during the summer, whether your child attends school or not. It's to hold your spot in the program, since there's a long waiting list of people who would take it if you no longer wanted it. Sucks to pay $$$$ all summer when we're at home, but thank goodness this is the last summer we've got to do that.

Anyway, I know that E would not benefit from going for 6, 7 or 8 weeks straight without coming to school---he needs to keep up with his routine and the rituals and expectations of school, at least a little bit. But this summer has worked out in such a way that he's really come to school very very rarely. A few field trip days, a couple of "water play days", and that's about it.

Anyway, he went 2 days last week (1 full, 1 half), and then I'd intended to start this week in sending him all 5 days so that we'd get back into that routine before I start school next week (sob, sob). But yesterday morning, I just plain didn't feel like sending him. No offense to the school at all, you understand. I just thought of it being maybe the last real day of summer for us to stay home together, veg out in our pjs and watch videos, play board games, etc. So I asked him which he'd rather do, and of course he wanted to stay home. He's a "homebody", strange as that sounds.

So I let him stay home. Shoot me, but I wanted to stay home with my children while I can. I wanted one more day of no schedule, no rushing about, etc. Today, however, it bit me where the sun don't shine...........

I took him for the full day today, and they had a bowling alley trip this morning. We'd witnessed last week that if a child badly misbehaves on a trip, then they aren't allowed to go on the next one. I reminded him of this, told him to try really hard to be good and listen on this trip because he wouldn't want to miss a future trip like those other boys did. Got there at 3:30 to pick him up, greeted by the afternoon aide telling me that the morning teacher had left us a note. That's never good.

The note was on red paper. Again, not good. A sad face :( on one side, and the bad news on the other: he'd not been listening on the trip, didn't follow "any of the rules". Therefore, next week he will not be allowed to attend the weekly bowling trip. I read the note, then the afternoon aide says something like, "he really had a rough time today, I think it must be because he's not here all the time, not used to it" or something along those lines.

I'm not really faulting the teachers for their decision, and I'm going to support it (not argue, complain, etc). I'm just mad at myself, I guess, for the fact that doing what I wanted to with them this summer seems to NOT be ok in some cosmic way that I don't understand and don't like. I stayed home during the summers as a child, so did my sister. So did K and his 2 brothers, and just about everyone I know. But my child? Apparently not. And this may seem like just a little thing to whine about in the scheme of things, but I just do not think I can take another afternoon of arriving at the school to see that look on the teachers' faces, knowing I'm about to be hit with yet another bad report. Why does it have to be my child that has to stay in a constant routine of school to be successful? Why is this so freakin complicated?

Sunday, August 3, 2008


A great friend of mine (who I met first in cyberspace, then in person) gave me some wonderful food for thought this week. She also has a son on the autism spectrum, and always seems to have such wonderful and "deep" insights into the ASD world and our place in it.

I was whining on our ASD forum (what else is new, right?) about the strange place I find myself in as a parent of an ASD child who would be described in the lingo as "high functioning". And in her wonderful way, my friend looked at my situation and put it into perspective, in a way I'd never considered. Really, never. I live with my role as A's advocate, protector, champion, therapist and psychologist 24/7, yet until yesterday I'd never really looked at us in this way.

It's like an Olympic-caliber gymnastics competition, specifically the balance beam. My sister was big into gymnastics when we were young, and she and I have always enjoyed watching the gymnasts on TV, etc. My favorite event is uneven bars, but I digress.

So, imagine with me, if you will: A, and our family by extension, is walking on a balance beam. (did you know that it's only 4 inches wide? oops, there I go again) On the right side of the beam is the NT world, the "real" world. It's so close that we can touch it. We don't actually walk in it, but we skirt along the edge and if we lean over just enough, we can sorta kinda feel like we're in it. We can blend in, merge into the traffic of regular life and pedal like crazy to keep up.

On the left side of the beam is the ASD world. The world of ABA therapy, advocacy, RDI, 1:1, IEPs, classroom aides, special diets, and a daily life of valiant struggles and hard-won progress. We don't really walk in this world either, truth be told. A's in a regular classroom, no aides. We don't do ABA, or RDI, or floortime or VB or anything like that. No special diets, no medications, no delayed vaccine schedule, nothing. He gets speech at school, and we do a social skills group once a week, and that's it.

So, I whine. I whine because I feel like we're walking on this tiny, narrow beam and we don't belong to either of the worlds that surround us. And that means I don't belong either. Not to the oh-so-cool Moms that I see at the park, the soccer games, and church.....my life's not like theirs. And not to the brave, dedicated ASD moms I meet in person and online either. It's almost unfathomable to me what these ladies do on a daily basis, and I don't know that I could be as strong as they are, or keep pressing on if my child was non verbal, or violent/self-injurious, etc.

Bless you, dear friend and fellow Obamamaniac. You know who you are. I guess it takes someone who looks at your life from the outside to truly see it sometimes, to give that rational perspective that you may lack. What was this amazing revelation that she gave me? Well, in a nutshell, it was this: She gave us credit. Credit for the tough hand we've been dealt. Anybody who has a child on the spectrum has it tough, no question there. But when I start thinking that I've got no right to complain about A's struggles, MY struggles, now I can remember her words, like this:

"A has some pretty sophisticated expectations placed on him, because he is so very high functioning. In many ways, your life, navigating him through the NT world, is probably much more stressful than mine - because my son is always so insulated and protected from NT expectations. A has so many more expectations on him than my son does, so I totally understand your frustrations about him, even though I don't have a similar child."

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Well, somehow I managed to go another 10+ days without posting. It's been on my mind, just haven't made the time to get my thoughts together. And I can't even complain about being busy right now, but the busy time of year is just about to start back up........

Anyway, the thought of "changes" has been floating around in my head. Changes of various types. Number one is that (sob, sob) summer is officially ending for my family, as of 8 am tomorrow. You guessed it, tomorrow is the return of the hated, dreaded BAND CAMP for K. I feel like each school year is a merry go round......it's always turning, even when we're not on it. We jump off each summer, do our own thing, no schedules, no plans, it's blissful. Then, reluctantly, at the first of August we synchronize our steps to the movement of the merry go round, and then step on. And we can't get off again until June. I don't want to get on, I don't want to get on, but the merry go round is the life we chose when we both became band directors. So take a deep breath, lift your foot, and here we go........

We've tried hard to enjoy our last week of summer, really we did. We went ice skating, shopping, out to eat several times, to the water park, to the beach. You name it, we did it, basically. One of our dinners out was to a local restaurant that does "kids eat free Tuesday", and it appeared that the entire population of our little town was there with the kids in tow. Inevitable that we'd know someone there, and we did. We'd hardly gotten in the door before we saw a family we know from church. Or should I say, KNEW from church. Ever since then, I can't get them out of my mind, and the whole situation is so sad.

Almost 2 years ago now, we had a very abrupt and almost violent staff transition at our church. Essentially, someone was asked to leave/fired, and for most of us it came completely out of nowhere. Questions still linger about the way it was done, did it even need to be done, etc, and I don't even know how to answer that because it was all so secretive and I never had all of the info. But the bottom line remains: it created a big split in the church, and several families that we'd known well and who were active and integral parts of the congregation decided to leave. The family we saw last week was one of those. I haven't laid eyes on them since that time. They have 3 kids, and I was floored to see them and how big they are! How dare they keep on growing, even when I no longer see them as they do it?

It was so awkward though, and I hated that. We were across the restaurant from them, and it was crowded, but we basically just waved at each other and nothing else. We could have gone over to speak to them, or they could have come over, but we all chose not to for some reason. It's like there was a wall there now, and we all felt uncomfortable going across it, so we just didn't. This family, and the others who left too, are great people and were assets to the congregation who (in my opinion) are still missed. I know I miss them. Why does stuff like this have to happen?

Oh, and then tonight we got some horrible news. A friend, a mentor, a colleague, just was diagnosed with breast cancer. I don't know any details yet, we heard this secondhand through another colleague. This wonderful lady has been my friend for 15 years, and I worked with her for 8. She's taught me so much and is a fabulous band director and fabulous lady! I don't see or talk to her as much anymore, since I work on the other side of town (literally and figuratively). But now this news comes, the night before band camp starts. I cannot imagine what is going through her head right now. I DO know that she has a tremendous faith in God, which she's shared with me many times. She helped us so much when our kids were in the hospital, and always reminded us to stay faithful and rely on God to help us all through what was a painful and scary time. Now, this is HER painful and scary time.

So if you don't mind, I think I'll end this with a prayer:

Lord, be with my friend today and in the days and weeks to come. Give her the strength, physically and mentally, to face the treatments that she will undergo. Be with the doctors and nurses; help them provide the very best in compassionate care for her. Be with her co-workers, and her band students, that they may find ways to support and encourage her as they prove the old saying "the show must go on". And lastly, please give me and all of her friends and family consolation in knowing that you are caring for her and that all of this is a part of your plan. Amen.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

a pleasantly pleasant day

.....for lack of anything better to call it. Today was just that, pleasant, and I loved every minute of it. Of course, I'm stressing big time because some long-time friends are coming to town tomorrow to visit for the weekend, and they've never seen this house before, so we're in MAJOR cleaning/sprucing up mode, but still......today just went smoothly, calmly, nicely, pleasantly.

Little E went to school today, for the first time in a while, because he missed his friends, plus today was WATER DAY, and how can any self-respecting 4 year old not enjoy water day? ;) After K dropped E at school, the rest of us went palm-tree shopping. We've wanted one for a while, but not the true palm tree with the big trunk that grows really tall.....more like one of the bushy kind that grows more outward than up. It was hilarious, like shopping for a Christmas tree: "do you like this one better, or this one? This one's bushier, but this one's taller. This one's nice, what do you think?"

But we settled on one, and brought it home. A helped us dig the hole to plant it, then helped pour Miracle Gro soil around it and water it in. It looks awesome, really makes the front of the house "pop" as they say. :)

Next, I went to my school for a decidedly pleasant and stress-relieving talk with my principal. He was so nice, thanked me for taking on these Chorus classes, and answered my many questions in a very satisfactory way, IMHO. I'm not ready to start back yet, of course, but I feel a lot better about doing so after today.

Went to the outlet mall and racked up on some great stuff at Oshkosh. 2 polos for A, and a pair of shorts, a pair of "shortalls" for E and 3 pairs of socks......total bill, $35! Never mind that they didn't have what I went there to get, LOL, I still had fun because I love "beating the system" and getting such great deals! :)

Picked up E at school, and was greeted with nothing but positives......all the teachers and kids were so glad to see him, he had a fabulous day, water day was a smash, AND get this: the teachers were giving the kids cute little star-shaped sunglasses to take home (not sure why, but I digress). E asked for a blue pair, which he got, then asked for a green one for A (A's fav color) and they gave him one. That's my sweetie, thinking of his big bro.

Home tonight was Leave it to Beaver material.........yummy semi-gourmet dinner of calzones (from scratch!) and broccoli, all cooked by K. After dinner, outside to play with the kids in the cul-de-sac, and ended up meeting/playing with some of our neighbors. 3 kids in particular, one of which we didn't already know. K and E were riding bikes with 2 "big boys" (found out they're both 11), and God bless those boys, they were SO nice to E. Didn't just tolerate his little 4-year-old obsession with the SuperFriends, they played along and pretended they were Batman and Superman to his Robin. A and I played with just-turned-8-year-old D, and she's such a breath of fresh air. Very nice, tolerant of A's peculiarities, seems to really want to play with him. They kicked the soccer ball around the cul de sac, then got out his bike and her Razor scooter.

She really wanted him to ride the bike, but then I explained he hasn't learned how yet (without training wheels)......then she was MORE excited and wanted to help him learn. He resisted every way he knew how, but finally gave in and tried it. She was a great helper, very encouraging. He still doesn't quite have it, I can't let go of the bike for more than a second, but we're trying.

Inside for pajamas and homemade milkshakes, a bit more cleaning up, and then reading books for bedtime.......me with A, K with E. Now, my ears are filled with the beautiful sounds of my sleeping boys, all 3 of them, through the baby monitor we still use. Right before getting into bed, E topped off the day by telling us "when I was at school and taking a nap, I really missed you guys!" My heart is full, and today was wonderful. I am truly very blessed!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

my snuggly boys, and other news

Wow, no blog posts from me in nearly 3 weeks! Sorry, guys. We've been out of town........taking A to church camp, doing our own overnight camping up in the mountains, visiting family for the 4th, etc. Also, the kids did 2 weeks of swimming lessons and we finally finished up Tball, so we've been busy.

Anyway, you know how sometimes you're really "in" a moment, really aware of what you're experiencing right then and how wonderful it is? I have those moments a lot, as a Mom, and often the thought that goes with it is "you'd better appreciate and remember this moment, while the kids are little", etc. Had one of those last night, and it was blissful and bittersweet at the same time.

For the summer, since we're all at home and no one has school or work to go to :) , we're not doing much about an organized bedtime for the boys. We get on pajamas, we start getting into bed (usually Mom and Dad's) and turning down lights, and when we fall asleep, that's fine. Last night, K and A were already in the bed but not asleep, just watching TV. E came to me where I was sitting at the computer, and I could see how tired he was. He said "I want to snuggle with you, Mom". How can you turn that down? :)

So, he climbed up into my lap. I had my legs stretched out straight, laying on top of a wooden stool, so he just stretched himself out to match. Head on my chest, body laying on top of my legs, etc. Within minutes, he was asleep. He's good about being able to stay asleep when you have to move him.......like if he's asleep in the car, but then you carry him inside, etc. So I knew I could take him to his room to his own bed, but I didn't want to, not yet. He's 4, but very petite, only weighs about 31 lbs and can still pretty easily wear most 3T clothes, even some 2T. So I was perfectly happy to lie there with him asleep on my lap, for a good long time, just savoring the moment. Realizing that someday soon he'll be too big for this, or won't want to do it. A is already too big, for the most part, although he and I did have a nice snuggly hug this morning, and he said in my ear "I really love you Mom". They can just be so amazingly sweet sometimes, and I know how incredibly blessed we are in that department. :)

Makes me think of a book my Mom bought for me, soon after A was born. I truly, honestly cannot read it without crying. I tried a few days ago, and failed again. The worst time ever was when A was beginning to learn how to read, so he wanted to read it aloud with me.........by the end I was bawling. But despite the tears, all moms of boys should have this book, it should be handed out at the hospital whenever a son is born.

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I think I've truly lost it

What was I thinking? Will someone please answer this for me? What was I thinking, taking on the job of teaching chorus at my school for next year, in addition to band? OMG, am I insane?

Long story short, our chorus teacher's family is moving/being transferred, so the school's in a bind since it's almost July and now they need a teacher. Chorus is only 2 classes per day, just like my Band is only 2 classes as well. So when they called and asked if I'd be willing to do it, and that my salary would double, I had to at least consider it. And in the end, K and I decided it would be worth a try. If I hate it/am miserable, I guess I could go back to Band only for the following year.

I was up most of the night last night, worrying and praying about this. Told the school I'd call them this morning with my answer. My thoughts just kept coming back to the reality that no job is perfect, no one is entirely contented with their job at all times.........and that my Mom and K's parents all did plenty of jobs along the way that they might not have loved. But they did them, for the sake of their families and to give us kids what we needed and even some of what we wanted.

So in that light, I suppose I can take on this added responsibility for the sake of my family and making things easier for us. The 1998 and 2001 vehicles we're still driving won't last forever, so this added income will help when car payment time comes around. (Whew, it's been nice not having one, though) And being considered full time at my school means I contribute to retirement, which I've not been doing for the last 7 years. Benefits too......gotta look into that, see if I could cover myself for health insurance and maybe make it cheaper all around if K could drop me from his coverage.

I know I'll miss the "me" time during the day, that's gonna be tough to get used to. And I won't be quite as free to volunteer at the kids' schools, go on field trips, etc. I'm determined, though, to find a good balance and still do those things as much as I can. In the end, I hope to still be Mom first, and music teacher second, as much as that's possible.

So, congratulate me, LOL! I'm now the entire music department at my school! Hope I haven't made a big mistake.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

what we've been up to

Have I told you how much I love summer time, when we're all at home, etc? Oh yeah, I did, in that last post...........

Anyway, figured I'd share some pics from what we've been up to this week. It's Bible School time, so K and I are working on that each morning (kids are there too), but in our afternoons we've been trying to keep the kids busy, entertained, etc. Saw Kung Fu Panda yesterday. It was cute, not the same old format of cartoon movies in recent years. 4 thumbs up (one for each of us, LOL)!

Last night, we tried (NOT for the first time) to teach A to ride his bike sans training wheels. After all, he's almost 7 and will be in 2nd grade, so it's time. He's been reluctant to try, but gave it a go this time, although only in the yard. Here we are trying it---ignore the woman in the white shirt who's pushing him, LOL:


And what was little E doing? Riding his little red car, and then deciding he had a better way to sit on it:


Today, we hit the local county park. It's got a great hot-weather activity for kids, usually just called "the sprinkler". Basically, it's an area with multiple fountains spraying out of the ground. They're various heights, etc, and kids can just run and play in them. It's the place to be when it's hot, and only costs $1 per person to get into the park! The boys absolutely had a blast, didn't want to leave when it was time to, etc. Here are my skinny-minis in action:



And afterwards, right before we left:


So if it doesn't rain tomorrow, we might hit the beach. Anything to keep the guys busy and avoid 24/7 TV and computer games. :)