Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Five...

Just five thoughts on this beautiful Friday afternoon...

1. Yesterday was the perfect afternoon/evening with my children. I actually used my time wisely before they came home from school and cleaned up. Then we went to the beach, swam in the pool and just hung out. While in the water with Zach, I look up and saw Ryan sitting in my beach chair, leg folded, and reading my magazine. I took a mental picture because I want to remember it forever.

2. Last night I was overcome with the thought that God trusts me enough to give me Zach and Ryan. Making their lives and their disability count is a huge deal. I don't want to mess it up, but I don't know how to accomplish that. Gee... pray much? I guess it's a matter of praying and waiting for God to work!

3. Summer vacation is only 4 school days away! Let's hope I get the house painted!

4. Mark comes home from Haiti today. He was there 3 days this week. He leaves for Brazil next Friday. No worries though... I'll survive 8 days with just me and the little men...

5. Cleaning the garage tomorrow! I can't wait. Seriously. I want to do it right. I want to remove everything, sort it, and then put it all back in the correct spot. Yes. I. am. a. dork.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Paddling the canoe

On Friday, I had the *joy* of going to another teacher in-service. I don't enjoy meetings on a good day, much less when there is only 9 days of school left in the year. Pretty ridiculous if you ask me...

I am not completely sure of the tie-in, but at one point we were each given a piece of Dove chocolate. We were to read the saying on the inside of the wrapper, reflect on it, and then share with others our reflection. I find these things a waste of my time, but being the *good* workshop attendee, I played along.

My saying said something about love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe.

I disagree with this saying.

There are many times that I am too tired to paddle my canoe and I ask others for their help. Sometimes they are paddling a while and sometimes it's just a quick break. Likewise, I have had the privilege of paddling for someone else.

So to those of you who have paddled for me, thank you! And for those of you who have let me paddle your canoe, thank you for trusting me! I keep repeating this theme - we have to be real with one another and support each other. This isn't a canoe regatta - there is no prize for the person who finishes first! The prize is for those who trust in God - and I think the winnings are even bigger when we support each other!

And for the trust few part... disagree. Maybe I should be this wary, but I generally trust until I've been burned. So far, it's worked well for me!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Whoops, forgot to mention...

Oops, so I neglected to mention that all my praying, worrying, stressing, and freaking out resulted in me getting what I hope is the right thing for my children...

We got the "go ahead" to send the boys to the new school that is designed specifically for children like mine. I am excited for the possibilities that are ahead, but a little bit weepy about the fact that we need such an environment. I know there will be frustrations at the new school and I will miss certain things about the old school. But overall, this change is gonna be good!

Here's a few cute things Zach has said lately...

Z: Knock, knock
Me: Who's there
Z: You
Me: You who?
Z: fake laughs [I don't think he knows why this is funny, he just knows he's supposed to laugh]

Me: Who do you like better, Dora or Chloey?
Z: Chloey is as hot as a snowman!

Z: Chloey is a hot dog. [We were trying to get him to say, "Chloey is hot"]

At 5:30 in the morning on Sunday, Ryan comes in Zach's room to play. Mark was already there - although I don't know why.
M: Ryan, come with me, let's go snuggle in your bed.
Z: Yea Ryan, go with daddy to your room. [This is perhaps the longest original sentence from Zach]

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sun N Fun 2010

Every spring, Mark makes plans to take the boys to a gigantic Air Show in Lakeland, FL. Sun N Fun has become an annual trek for Mark and Zach. Fortunately for Ryan, he's been included in the tradition. In the beginning, Mark and Zach camped under the wing of an airplane... but lately they just go for the day. I am lucky enough to have the day off every year!

Heading back to the plane after an exhausting day! By the end, Ryan can barely walk!

But they have so much fun seeing the latest technology and play with the newest airplanes. I'm sure the vendors panic when they see the Mikarts boys approach their planes! They aren't exactly gentle...

Mark likes looking at the amazing aircraft and taking cool pictures.

I prefer the pictures with the boys...

Nothing like a shiney spinner to get all smudged up...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More confessions....

I have this thing. This belief. This conviction. As a wife, a mom, a woman, an employee, the world expects me to have it together. But I don't think it's the world that puts that expectation on me. I think it's me applying the pressure. I worry that if I don't have it all together, other women will judge me or won't like me. So, we hide our imperfections. And this perpetuates the image that we have it all together.

So here's my thing. Us women ROCK. We rock because of our imperfections. We rock because we are the glue that holds it all together. But sometimes, we aren't perfect. AND THAT IS OK. My thing is we should be open about our imprefections. And then they won't be imperfections anymore. They will simply be normal-ness-es. And maybe there won't be so much mompetition and the Mommy Mafia will need to find new things to attack and judge. I mean seriously, we all have confessions. If you say you don't, we know you are lying.

So here are some things I have to confess, to get off my chest:

* I don't always understand what my kids say. Sometimes I just smile and nod and say, "Later." Also, we prayed so hard for Zach to talk and I don't really want to "shush" him. But after hearing the same thing a hundred times, I kinda lose my patience.

* When other people are playing with my kids and enjoying them, I feel guilty. I feel bad because I don't always enjoy them.

* I am afraid to ask for babysitters because I think my children are so difficult to babysit. Sometimes, I don't even want to "babysit" them.

* When my kids are at Challenger Baseball, I don't care if they spend the entire game in the dug-out or looking for Four-Leaf Clovers in the outfield. Other parents get all worked up if their child isn't up to bat. That doesn't matter to me... I'm just happy they are outside playing.

* I rarely vacuum under my furniture.

* I don't have patience for the children who cry over tiny injuries. And I don't sympathize with the parents that freak out over a little cut. I have a friend who's son is a mild hemophiliac. They should freak out about little things... but they don't. So I don't get the people who do.

* I am counting the minutes until I'm done with my 8th graders. I actually like the kids. I just don't like teaching the kids. If we could just hang out and not do anything academic, it would be fine. The minute I try to impart knowledge or start a discussion... well it goes downhill fast!

* My five year old is not potty trained and I haven't given it a full effort. I've tried, half-heartedly, but until I get my 8 year old fully there, I'm not ready to take on another project.

* My underwear is getting a bit ratty looking, but I'm too cheap to replace it all.

* I gained 1.6 lbs last week. I guess eating non-stop doesn't work when trying to lose weight.

I know there's more to confess, I will just need to gather them for the next week or so... So let's hear your confessions! Leave me a comment!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Just a game...

Sometimes, I have to remember that so many things in life are just a game. I tell my students all the time that there are hoops to jump through and seemingly-unreasonable steps to take. And it is all just part of the game...


Standardized tests...

Closing fees when buying a house...

Signing in to particular websites...

Being nice and respectful to people who don't deserve it...

Not telling people what you are really thinking...

Sitting through professional development workshops...

Getting your children to the right school...

IQ tests for non-verbal children...

It's all just part of the game.

I sat through a meeting last week and when all was said and done, I was a mess. A blubbering, snot-bubble forming mess. I went to a friends house and cried. I went back to work and cried. And ranted and raved. I spent time with my husband. And ranted and raved. I went to a party and made jokes about it. (Because you can't rant and rave at a party!)

But all of it is a game and I have to remember that. Stupid psychological reports that describe a child I do not know, even though he is my son. Game-time. Listening to a failed behavioral intervention plan even though the interventions are silly. Game-playing. All of it is part of the game that I asked to play.

See, when I decided my children need a different school, I signed up to play this game. I knew from the onset that it would be ugly. I was fortunately warned. But in the midst, I forgot. I allowed myself to get upset about what I heard. I allowed myself to doubt what I know about my children. And I cried.

I quickly remembered that the psychological report needed to be "ugly" and that the behavior intervention plan had to fail. But did that keep me from forming snot-bubbles from the tears? Nope. Because my tears morphed into something totally different.

I got mad at myself for being upset about the game. It was the stupidest, vicious cycle, ever! I was mad that I was mad about a piece of paper. Have you ever done that? I'm probably the only crazy one...

And if I don't win my game on Thursday... I'm going into over-time.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I have a litany of topics to blog about. Friday was one of those days... But some of the events, revelations, and conversations are still too painful to talk about with grace. Several of you have had the opportunity to listen to my rant, and I am forever thankful for the people who I can "dump" on. I am also forever thankful for my son's teacher, Dana.

But what I can write about is choices... I work for and live in a district that primarily does what parents want. Threaten a lawsuit and you can usually get your way. I do not want to operate that way and I am a trusting person. I trust that others are making the best decisions for my children. They are, afterall, the ESE professionals. They are the ones who went to school for the skills to work with children like mine.

On the same token, I expect my students' parents' to trust me to make the right decisions for their children. I don't particularily care for parents who tell me how to run my classroom. I sincerely appreciate their input about their child and suggestions. But don't tell me how to run my classroom. So, I pray that I give that same respect to my children's teachers.

Zachary has been with an amazingly patient, loving, and structured teacher. She has pushed Zach, she has nurtured Zach, and she has disciplined Zach. She has brought the best out in him and she has stood up for us, time and again. Ryan has also had great teachers, but Dana belongs on a pedestal.

The ESE aides that work with my kids are equally phenomenal. They push and nurture my kids and are forever patient with them - too patient sometimes, but anyway...

I know... get to the point.

My boys are "intellectually disabled" - I love that term. Anyway, they would not function in a regular classroom. Mainstreaming these guys would not work. It would come at a huge cost to all involved parties. I understand that. And I am definitely advocating for that.

My school district allows parents to choose, with certain parameters, which school they choose to send their children to. My boys go to Venice Elementary because they are the school in south county with the classroom they need.

I don't have a choice as to which elementary school to send them to. I was told where they had to go.

Many parents have a choice as to which teachers they children have. There are usually several per grade level and parents can choose (again with parameters). I don't have a choice. I absolutely love Dana, so I'm lucky!

But next year, there is only one teacher who has a classroom that services my little men. That means Zach and Ryan will be in the same class. A kindergartner and 4th grader. Together. Under one roof. Not fair for Dana or Ryan.

So I lack choice, again.

Ryan has manipulated his therapists into thinking he can only say 3 or 4 words. At home, I've lost count of the words he says. In fact, this morning, he said, "Momma, I hate you." But that's another topic... Ryan acts like a total brat, has a temper tantrum, flops on the floor, and tells his therapists, "No." So what do they do? End therapy and send him back to his room. Ryan needs a different therapist. But, again, I lack choices.

So I am asking they be sent to a different school. A school that specializes in children like mine. A school that doesn't have a ton of choices either, but at least everyone at the school can handle children like mine. And the principal won't sit in the meetings and give me patronizing looks. Or give me this God-awful look of "sympathy" when she sees me holding hands with my boys. As if I need her sympathy. Try understanding, hon, it works better. (Wow, the sorority girl in me just popped out and wrote that.)

A school where the specials are tailored to their needs. Zachary won't have to go to specials with kindergartners - when he is in 4th grade! Ryan won't have to eat by himself in the classroom by himself. A school where they can put Ryan in time out when he acts like a brat. A school where Ryan can't manipulate the therapists.

So this new choice sounds great, right? Only, it's not mine to make. I have to jump through hoops and pile work upon several people - most especially Dana.

All I'm saying is... If I don't get my choice, I will become one of those parents. The hard part is... it's not in my nature and getting my message across without it sounding like the teachers are the problem. They aren't. It's the rest of the picture...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I have some confessions to make. They aren't pretty. And chances are, the "Mommy Mafia" will have plenty fuel to judge me. But I'm ok with that. In fact, read on and you will feel better about yourselves.

I think, often times, as parents we want to sound like we have our act together. We want others to like us and be impressed with our children, so we end up putting on this front that we don't mess up, much. Or sure, we share the little problems. But we share just enough to seem normal. I mean, everyone yells at their kids. I'd know you were lying if you said you didn't.

I used to call these confessions, NOT Me's. But the more I live my life, the more I want to connect with other moms and let my guard down. I want to share my frustrations and my not-so-proud moments. I want to know that I'm not the only that slacks off or screws up. So here are some of the confessions that are rolling around in my head:

*I feed my children cereal for dinner. It breaks up the monotony of chicken nuggets and hot dogs. Although I did learn that Zach will eat some amazing things if I bribe him with M&Ms. Oh, and that cereal? Captain Crunch. No wait, Malt-o-Meal's version. Not organic and full of sugar.

* I take my kids to the playground to get a break. I don't want to play with them. I want them to play on their own. I want to read my book or talk to other moms. But then I feel guilty when another mom starts talking to my kids. So I go over and start acting like I always play with my kids.

* I sometimes know my kids are doing something they aren't supposed to, but I am slow in getting up to stop them. Like right now, I'm in the toy room blogging and they are pouring pop corn in the shag carpet rug. I'll clean it up, but not yet.

* I can be mean to my husband. I take him for granted and then five minutes later start a huge argument because I tell him he takes me for granted. Sorry, honey!

* For Mother's Day, I just want to be left alone. In my house. With. no. one. else. there.

* I work. I am glad I work (most of the time). I am tired of being judged or looked down upon because I work. I wish there wasn't guilt attached with my decision. Sometimes I say I work for insurance. I also don't think I would have made a good stay at home mom. Sure I'm a teacher, but I have no patience for teaching my children.

* I get home about 45 minutes before the kids do and I am usually very selfish with that time. I would prefer to sit and read or use the computer than clean the house or do chores. So sometimes, when my kids get home... that's when I start the chores. There are days though, that I actually clean when I get home. But I would rather not.

* I call my youngest son a "terrorist". He is full of personality and can be quite charming, but can be really draining. He can't talk well, so he whines to get his message across.

* I often grieve the fact that my children aren't "normal". Oh, I know they were chosen by God for me, but I sometimes which He had given me "normal" kids.

* Sometimes Zach wets his bed in a bottom corner and it's dry before I find it. If I'm really lazy on those days, I wait to change his sheets. If it's wet or in the top, I'll change it. On the same note, Zach prefers to sleep on the floor. I don't always put him back bed when I peek in on him.

* Ryan only has one pair of shoes he can wear to school. He has a pair of sandals and Crocs though.

I am sure I will have more confessions. But these felt good to get off my chest! So let the Mommy Mafia know where I live. I will be happy to take the hits - then they will be off your back. I'm a friend like that! Oh, and I have a huge popcorn mess to clean up.