Friday, August 29, 2008

Flashback Friday..

For most of us there is a defining moment in our teen years when we suddenly feel we have gone from being a kid to being an adult - it happens around the age of 16 when we get out driver’s licenses. Suddenly we feel this surge of freedom that we never had before - that is, until we realize we don’t have a car. But somehow along the way most of us do end up with our own car - maybe not at age 16, but at some point. This week I thought it would be fun to flashback to that time when you got your first car. How old were you? What kind of car? What led to the buying of it?
Well...I must say, I was in love with my first car. It happen to be a red Ford Escort GT. Now, let me help you here...the 'GT' part meant it was kindof sporty! It had the whole spoiler on the back! I loved that car! My parents began shopping around for a used car for me. I was thrilled! I, of course, tried to be the polite daughter, "Any car will do..I am not picky, just grateful!" But you and I both know I wanted a "cool" car. My parents went to the closest big city. They came home with my red little sporty car! I was in love. I will never forget that a friend in high school said to me, "Heather, that is my dream car! You are so lucky" And I really felt that way. The only sucky part was that it was a stick. My mother and I spent hours at the local elementary parking lot stopping and starting over and over again! The car lasted me about three years. I took it to college and it began to over heat all the time. So, they kept the car and gave me an older two seater truck...that I hated. Oh well, the first car at 16 was great!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I got an award....

Thank you, myinnerbitsy , for such a cool bloggy award! This is a great new world for me and I am so excited to be here!

Part of the award fun is in passing it on so here are some blogs I love:

1. Chrissy at Cali Girl Momma (Best way to stay in touch with your best friend)

2. Bitsy at myinnerbitsy (Love to hear all those TMI stories!)

3. Burg at burgsbuttonup (Says all things out loud that we want to say)

4. The Queen at TheQueenofMayhem (Keeps me in stiches with her life)

5. Amazing Grace at ccdmom (Enjoy all inspirational ideas)

6. moms and dads at 5minutesforspecialneeds (A place for support)

And there are a few award rules for those who choose to pass it on:
1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog. 2. Link the person you received your award from. 3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs. 4. Put links of those blogs on yours. 5. Leave a message on the blogs of the people you’ve nominated.
Thank you again Bitsy! I am so excited!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ready for a laugh??

Well, I have to share this story with someone! I hope you see the humor in it as I do and it makes you smile today!

My hubby had the day off and I came home to an excellent dinner of steak, butter noodles and corn! It was delicious (and not just because I didn't have to cook it! :-) ! So the five of us sat down for a family dinner about 5:30. We start each meal with a prayer. Our girls fight each night because they always want to be the one to pray. It is great that the girls fight about who gets that privilege! Well, my oldest, Kailey was the winner tonight. Had I only known....

Kailey (Just FYI..this is my 12 year old daughter who has autism and cerebral palsy) begins her prayer,.."Jesus, Thank you for the family, thank you for our home, thank you for our food, and thank you for my penis, my wonderful penis." (Insert laugh here)

I about fell out of my chair! I looked at my husband in utter confusion and ready to bust a gust at the same time! Where in the world did that come from??? So we raise our heads and my husband asks the question that I just couldn't make myself say. "Kailey, where have you heard the word penis?" Oh no... she doesn't answer the question. My six year old daughter pipes up, "Oh, dad, they say that on The Simpsons Movie"

Now, I have never watched this movie (I know...obviously I need to pay more attention) but I had no clue that this kind of language or content was used. She enjoys her movies and had Tivoed this movie on her personal TV. I had no clue she had MEMORIZED this great quality programing! know the next question to come. So I have to ask the six year old because she obviously has viewed this program as well, "Boo (who is also a female by the way), do you know what a penis is?" Well...before she could answer the question my 10 year old genius daughter pipes up and says, "Boo, are you serious? You don't know what a penis is? We all have one!"

(Insert laughter here!) family dinner table tonight was filled with conversation about who has a penis and who has a vagina. Wow....never a dull moment!
PS...the genius middle daughter thought a penis was another name for a bladder!

Monday, August 25, 2008

What a busy week... you can see I didn't post for a week. The first week of school always seems to run me down! I was in bed early each night and slept hard! For those of you that are so understand!! It is a great week...but draining!

I had a great first week. And I must say...I had all 28 names memorized with faces by the end of the day! Yeah me!! I try very hard to know them so they feel welcomed. the way..I had three moms say thank you for the postcards. One mom even told me that her son was so nervous about starting and that the postcard really made him excited and comfy. So...take the time to make that initial contact.

But I must complain for a few sentences here. I was able to get back my emergency cards this week. I always make a point to look them over, check names, employers, emergency contacts, and allergies. I was a little saddened this year. I cannot tell you how many of my students don't like with a mom or dad. Out of my 28 students 10 live with a relative or guardian! That is ONE THIRD of my class! WOW!! It really saddens my heart some of the situations these kids live in. Now, I must tell you. I live in the mountains of central California. We are not an inner city. We are not a "city" at all! We are a small community (45,000) that is what I would consider middle America. Our families seems to just be disappearing. Just thought I would share how in the last 14 years of teaching...times have changed! I am onto week two of school! And I am excited!
Softball is over tonight....
Cheerleading is in full swing...
Gymnastics starting too....

Here we go again...another year full of adventure!

Monday, August 18, 2008

First official day of work...

Wow! What a day! It was my first "teacher" day back. The kids don't start until Wednesday. It always feels like such a huge task to start over each year. There are always so many "little" things you can not forget! Those "little" things help to create a smooth classroom. I actually spent all of last week in my classroom so by today I was actually finished! Tomorrow is tying up loose ends and helping out a new teacher.

Not only do I have to get my "teacher hat" ready to go by Wednesday, but my "mommy" hat has to have all in place as well. Trying to make sure the backpacks, shoes, socks, lunch boxes, lunch items, etc...are all ready to go! The checklist for THREE children seems to be endless! Thank goodness for the blackberry and my lists upon lists to help my pea brain!

And ya know...I want my house in tip top shop to start the year off...and I just don't feel I am so successful in this area. Not that it is horrible...but all I want is a perfect house. That isn't asking too much with three kids, four cats, a dog and a hubby??? I really need to learn to deligate more jobs to my children. They are all old enough that I really shouldn't have to touch another dish! Yet....I was up at 9:30 tonight doing dishes! Time for a chore chart I think!

Does having 75% of my goals in place mean I am successful?? Can I hire a maid to do the 25% of my failing areas??


Saturday, August 16, 2008

New teacher hints...

I thought I would share some advice for those of you that are newer teachers. There are several things we can do as teachers to make our school year go a bit smoother. And hey...let's admit it...we all need things that make life and work a bit easier!
1.) Always make a positive contact with a parent first!---It is always easier to make that dreaded "I have to tell on your kid" phone call, if you have made a postitive contact first. How can you do this? Well, I do it in two ways.

  • I always begin the school year by sending out a "Welcome Back To School" postcard. I write something like, "Hello there! I hope you have had a great summer. I sure have. We enjoyed our visit to the Grand Canyon this summer. But it is time to head back to school. I am so excited about getting to know you. This is going to be a great year. I will see you bright and early on Aug 20th!" This is a personal note to each child and parent.
  • Secondly, I make a point in the first three weeks to send a personal note to each parent. Now, I know we are all busy, the note does not have to be more that a few sentences. I try to find something I have learned and enjoy about their child. Here is an example, "Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith, I just wanted to send a quick note to let you know I am sure enjoying getting to know John. He is such a well mannered young man. You have much to be proud of! Mrs. R" I usually write three a day the first three weeks. I actually keep a copy of each note.

These two tasks really help to set the stage for parent support when you are dealing with children. I don't think we realize how much parents need to get those positive stickers! Especially if they have a troubled child those positive notes are few and far between. So, set the stage, make your first contact a postivie one!

Another hint....KEEP EVERYTHING!!!!

I bought a few crates that fit legal size file folders (You could just use a filing cabinet). Each child has a folder. Any information that goes between home and school goes in this folder. You just never know when a parent will come in and say they never saw a note or paper. Here are the items I keep in this folder: Begining of the year letters that went home with parent signatures, any and all assessment, progress reports, personal notes from home and school, referrals, copies of emails, excuses for not participating in PE....etc. You get the picture. Let's face it, dealing with irate parents is difficult. This organizational technique has saved me several heart aches. I have had a parent go to my adminstration saying they wanted their kid moved because I didn't communicate that their child was failing. When I walked into the parent meeting with my administrater I had a file full of progress reports (I send these home every two weeks and require a parent signature) and all the chapter tests (I also send home and require a parent signature). Come to find had been hiding from dad all of this information. Dad ended up apologizing and said he obviously had issues at home to address. So, take the time to set this up! With sue happy people these days, you can't afford not to cover yourself in every way! Make a paper trail!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wow...feeling older every day!

Today...........I taught my daughter how to shave her legs! Who knew this would rouse such emotions for me! She has started cheerleading. Which means lots of time spent with girls (of the same age) whom are developing at all different rates. Several of the girls shave their legs. Now, my daughter has very light blonde hair so you really can't see it. But, when the sun hits in right, you can. So she asked when she could start shaving her legs. Now , I am also aware that her step sister is shaving and this has aroused some interest for her as well. Is there an appropriate age?? I am not sure. She has started to grow in other why not!? I wouldn't want to be out on the football field with the sun shining off my blonde filled legs! So we dove in this evening and fixed her all up! Boy...they grow up fast! Time to start having those "talks" that every parent hates. I just keep telling myself take it one day at a time. We have had several of those dreaded conversations. I have tried very hard to make sure she feels she can ask me anything without freaking out. I try to play it cool and make sure I give just enough info to answer her questions, but not too much information that she has too much or more than she was searching for at that time. Amazing how shaving one's legs now has me be concerned about the next step of development! For right now...I think the next question will be when she can wear mascara. I can handle that one! :-)

My summer passion....

I really have enjoyed my summer passion of gardening! We have really enjoyed getting to watch the vegetables grow. And it really has become the family's passion. The girls just love going outside each day to see what new thing has bloomed. What a great teaching opportunity too. My little six year old now understands what happens when we plant seeds. The girls have also learned patience ( too). We want to pick the produce because we are so excited. But waiting and letting them get bigger and bigger sure has been fun. The girls just love to go out and pick the squash and then see it on their plate that night for dinner! The watermelon has just started to grow. There are little baby watermelon everywhere!! They are so cute! I know..dumb! But I now see why gardening is such a relaxing enjoyable activity...even if you are under 50! :-) Here are a few pics of our current growth!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

It never ends...

Well...I always have these grand ideas about how much stuff I will get done during the summer and it just never seems to work out! I know I have accomplished a lot, but I always see the things that I didn't get to finish! I was able to teach a month of summer school, paint my mother's entry way and hallway, painted Boo's room purple (you like that Chrissy?), cleaned out the kitchen cupboards, moved Madi to the down stairs bedroom, went through all the old clothes, donated clothes to the local guild, and built and maintained a new garden.

I have 10 days before school starts! AHHHH!!! I have much to do to finish up my end of summer projects. I wanted to help Adam get the garage all cleaned and organized before winter hit. Not sure I will get that done in the next 10 days. But I think we can get it done in the next two months. I really want to hit all my cupboards and get them all cleaned out. It is nice to start a new school year with the house in order. Because we know how quickly the schedule of work and the girls extra curricular activities come and the organization starts to deplete quickly!

Here is the worst part....I really don't feel like I have 'relaxed' this summer! Between teaching summer school and vacationing with three kids, and chores...I don't feel rested! Think I could fit some rest in the next week? It has dawned on me...this is my life...there are no more "down" days! With three kids at home, continuing my education, and a full work never ends! And that is is good! Tired...but good! :-)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Our Parenting Goals....

Raising our children is a huge job. Each day brings new challenges, that are always covered with those kisses and hugs that we all love so much. But adding a disabled child into the mix really can shake a parent to the core. I have known about my oldest daughters "issues" since birth. I knew "something" was different, but took years to finally get a diagnosis.

One evening when she was three, I was really struggling with my daughter. Nothing that she had done, more struggling in my own head. I was morning....which every parent must do who has a disabled child. We morn all the things that a "normal" child will succeed at that our child will struggle to attain. This process is a must so that we are able to move forward and accept.

As I was in this valley, I began a very tearful conversation with my father. I was upset my daughter was unable to climb the ladder to the slide, she couldn't hold a pencil, and she couldn't ride a bike. It just all seemed so unfair! I wanted my child to find success! I wanted her to be "normal"!
My very wise father sat me down and said, "What is your goal as a mother? Not just for your handicap child, but all your children. Is it that they graduate from college? Is it that they make $50,000 a year? Is it that they have three kids and are a stay at home mom? What?? What will you see as success when they are 30 years old?"
After much only answer could be..."I want my children to be happy." My father looked at me and said..."Don't you see have already won with her! She is the happiest child one could meet!" And if you have had the pleasure to know my would see this to be the truth!

You see, we must put things into perspective....We often see things through the worlds eyes. We must get back to basics and view them through God's eyes. I can honestly tell you today, that I am content with my daughter working at McDonalds, greeting at Walmart (which she would be fabulous at might I say! As long as she didn't kiss all those that enter!), or even wrapping napkins and utensils at a local restaurant. Above all the worldy goals which we all strive for, I want my daughter to be happy, to see meaning to each day, and to feel happy with what she has accomplished. No matter where that might lead her.....

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Reality check....dont they suck sometimes! :-)~

Ya know...I know God has a great sense of humor and sometimes the people He brings to deliver the humor is often my husband! :-) I joined a softball team a few years ago. My thought is you are never to old to learn something new. I am not a great athlete by any stretch, but I can usually hold my own. So, I learned to pitch and have enjoyed the team and the friends I have made.

My coach, Mark, is a great man. He puts up with us "thirty-something, non-athletic moms" even though he wants to win so badly he can't stand it. And to be honest, so do we! We have, as a team, improved greatly! We are actually winning some games these days! haha!

Well, at a game last week, I hit the ball and get onto first base. My coach is standing there as the first base coach. He says to me, "Now Heather, you know you are a slow runner, so you need to get out there and get a big lead so we don't play into a double!" WHAT?? I am slow? Was I suppose to 'know' this? Now, I know I am not a sprinter, but SLOW? Come on now!

So, letting this thought roam around in my head for a few days, I finally tell my husband yesterday, "So, Mark told me I am a slow runner. You think that is true?" His words to me this carefully...hear the tone..."Well, you aren't the slowest runner on the team." What the HECK? That was a, "Yes, are slow!" have to take into consideration that I have also begun working towards a marathon. I have been running a few 5K races this past year. So to hear that I am "slow" hits several areas of my life! Reality time I guess...I am a slow runner...what ya gonna do!? I really don't have any desire to head out to the track to work on sprinting. So, today...I am ok with knowing, I am not the slowest runner on my team! :-)~

Monday, August 4, 2008

My Favorite Things

My favorite things tends to change each year. So I will give it a go for this current year! :-)

1.) Having a family sit down dinner-With our busy schedules and my hubby working evening it isn't often we get that family dinner time. So on the days it comes, I enjoy it! It is great to watch each of the girls interact with each. I also get a great sense of their personalities as they tell about their day and their friends.

2.) Getting to sleep in-Again...with those busy schedules it seems there is not much time to just lay and rest. Saturday mornings are always filled with activities in town and Sundays are spent at church. So when those days come, I enjoy it!

3.) A date night with Hubby- I just love getting dressed up and heading out with hubby. We love to have a great dinner. We both appreciate cooking and enjoy trying new places (Stop laughing Chrissy! It is true!) Catching a movie, finding a great place to dance the night away, or just walking the mall and people watching are high on our list!

4.) Laying in my bed with my girls watching a movie-I have been on a kick to make sure my girls watch all the important movies from my day! Haha! I want them to appreciate my sense of humor and my hints to shows. This past Christmas they all got an 80's movie in their stocking! Goonies, Grease, 16 Candles, ET,Footloose, etc...I have having to wait on a few...the sexual content is just too much for now! haha! I sound like my mother now!

5.) Any Kiss from a kiddo-I will never tire of these! Each are so different and yet so special. My oldest is loving "eskimo kisses" these days! So we are always bumping noses. My middle daughter has decided that a kiss is a way of saying thank you. So we kiss a lot these shoes, new hair bow,...kisses start flowing. And the little one is a little more stingy. She loves to kiss her daddy the most. So when she shares with me, I appreciate them greatly!

I am supposed to tag five other people, but I don’t even think I have five readers over here so if you are out there reading then please join in the fun and leave me a comment so I know you did.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

It's August...back to school time!

Whenever the calendar turns to August, I begin my back to school projects. I have quite a few projects as a mother. But also as a teacher, I have much to do. I thought I would shared some helpful hints to make life a bit easier.

Let's start with our Mom hats. With three children starting school, it can be quite costly. And let's face it, the older they get the more they want the trendy clothes. I have found that Ebay has helped our pocket book out greatly. My girls are loving the Roxy, Volcom, and Hurley clothes. These shirts are quite costly. A new one can go from $25 to $40. I have found several "lots" of these clothes on Ebay. For those of you Non-Ebayers, a lot means a "group" of clothes. I bought my middle daughter a "lot" of 15 Roxy, Hurley, and Volcom shirts and two sweatshirts for $45. That is $2.64 a shirt!!! You have to be quite careful to read the information about the items. You want to make sure the clothes are not stained or ripped and that the seller has a good reputation. This has really helped me to cut some corners on the girls clothes. I am unable to do this in the jean department. I always take the girls to the store to make sure they fit comfy and appropriately since they grow so much each year. But hey...that is ok when I am saving in the shirt department!

Ok...the teacher hat! One thing I have found to cut corners for me is the number system. I know many teachers use this system in their classrooms, but if utilized well it can help prevent having to buy new things each year. Not to mention this system saves me a lot of time in preparing for my new students each year. We have been getting our class lists two days before school begins. This leaves most teachers in a scramble to be organized to begin school. I know this is harder with younger grades, but second and third graders take to this system quickly. I label my cubbies, folders, desks, books, pencil boxes, folders, journals, jacket hooks, etc. with numbers starting with number 1 all the way to the number of students I have entering my class. The students quickly learn their number and are able to use this organization system. I am to set my room up without knowing my students exact names! And once you have done this, it works year after year. The only thing I must do before school starts is the name tags for the desks.

One more teacher hint...on your back to school items for parents to send it...add a box of Wipees! I know...sounds crazy! But it is SO helpful. I start the year with 3o boxes! We are able to clean our desks weekly to help with those cold germs that are rampid in a classroom. Also helps for quick clean up after those dirty art projects in our classrooms!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Having a Child with Medical Issues seems another round of medical testing is on the horizon for my daughter and the hubby and I. We have been contending with some behaviors of hers for years. She has an obsession with putting things in her mouth. It is any and all things! And I mean ANY!! She has digested things such as a matchbox car, stuffing from her pillow, and once attempted a plastic bag from the local grocery store (Thank God hubby caught her!). This has been a 10 year struggle for us. I have tried every type of behavior modification I have in my repitour as a teacher. This is the one behavior I am unable to conquer.

We have a wonderful behavior specialist that comes over once a week. I get to do my complaining to her and she helps me to correct these behaviors. She has been sch a blessing to us! She is the cheerleader when things are great and the truth teller when I need to hear things that are hard to accept. She recommended that we try some medical intervention, IE...medication...with my daughter and her OCD with putting things in her mouth.

This was a really tough decision for my hubby and I. Putting my 12 year old daughter on medication for something that is not life-threatening was difficult. But after 10 years of frustration it was time to give it a go. We did several rounds of Prozac. This medication seemed to have little effect on her behavior. So...about two weeks ago we went to the Dr. and he decided to go a different route. Well, before we could start this new medication we needed to have an EKG and some blood work.

No problem...right?? Well..we did both tests and got the phone call. The EKG came back bad. She has two issues they are not comfy with and are sending us to a pediatric cardiologist. Of course.....nothing can be easy. So I spent the week getting all the appointments needed to start this process. Then...another phone call came. Her bloodwork came back bad as well! OMG!!!! Are you kidding me?? She now has high cholesterol and triglycerides. Wow....Wow....I was just thinking to myself...Seriously, does EVERYTHING have to be an ordeal????????

Well, trying to be the responsible parent I have googled all these conditions. I feel a little more educated on the subject. So now it appears I must really monitor her diet even more closely. And to be honest with you, I already do. Which I guess is where my greatest frustration comes from. She has had weight issues for years. Hubby and I had made a commitment to watch her weight and exercise with her more often this past year. So, I am just unsure where I am able to "cut" things out for her. I walk two miles with her three times a week and she works out with her physical therapist twice a week for an hour.

Given her disability, what more can I do with her?? Well, I have decided to get her on the treadmill each day for 30 minutes each morning. I hope this will help start up her metabolism each day. Hubby and I had already volunteered to start a special olympics swim team. She loves to swim and this will help to work some calories off as well. But it won't start until Jan.

It appears I am going to have to really watch my cooking as well. I will start shopping a little wiser. For example, I know I need to cut out noodles, but they are her favorite. There is so little in this life that she LOVES. And not letting her have that once a week just hurts my heart. So, I have decided to switch to the whole grain noodles. Hopefully, these kinds of changes will help us control her cholesterol levels.

There are just some days where the frustration level is so high. I know God has a plan for her...and for us. But sometimes I just wish God would give her a break. She is 12 and went through surgery 17 and 18 this year. It feels so unfair sometimes, and my heart hurts for her. She is my baby...and I hurt when there are so many trials she faces each day. So many trials that I can't hurts.