Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Missing my blog!

I miss blogging....even now when I feel I have nothing to say, I just have to say I miss the outlet of my blog. My kids are fine, even better than fine, they are great!

#1 is doing his thing in more remedial classes instead of the contained room most of the day. He is also riding horses at a therapeutic riding center. One day, he didn't get to ride because of rain and he was disappointed, but said, "Well, we can look around anyway."

#2 is busy, busy, busy with lots of band stuff! He was also involved in a robotics challenge that UAB puts on called the BEST competition. He was going into school early AND staying late every night but Wednesday nights for band....things were so busy, we almost forgot about academics! He didn't do so well in at least one of his classes, but we are working on bringing that back into focus. He enjoyed so much the robotics stuff and looks forward to doing that next year, but that is over for the year, thank goodness. The band thing goes on and on and keeps me almost as busy with uniforms once a week and chaperoning their games and trips at least once a week and often twice. That hopefully is winding down as football season enters post-season playoff games. This week is Homecoming and he wasn't interested in asking anyone to the dance, and although his friend asked a couple of girls for him, they already had dates.

Hoover's band is very good and works very hard, so everything they do is intense! They had special procedures for most everything they do! They host a huge marching festival every year at Regions Park that is wonderful. But with all of this activity in our family, right now we are feeling a little drained and overloaded. I, in particular, look forward to things quieting down a little and a few family nights and date nights thrown in there. He is having fun, though, which is something we didn't have much of last year.

#3 is continuing to thrive at school in her little zone. She desires not to be involved in very much at all and likes staying "low-key". She is making very good grades and is holding her own with friends and making some new ones. She continues to be the friend of a lot of little Indian girls at her school. I still find this so unusual, but they are sweet, unworldly (for the most part), girls from more strict, strong families. I can only suspect this is the reason. She clicks with them and I am fine with that. She does have some "American" friends, mostly those who march slightly to a different beat. They are not "run-of-the-mill" teenagers.....maybe a good thing! She continues to have trouble bonding with girls at church. She has a good relationship with our female youth leader, but the friendship of others at church pretty much eludes her. Also, she doesn't have the need for people as much as someone like me does (again, maybe a good thing).

#4 is doing moderately well in school, except for his being stubborn and wanting to do things his way. He is very smart and creative with many gifts that elude most people. However, he continues to have difficulty with getting thoughts on paper (and he has lots of thoughts, let me tell you). Spelling continues to be a problem for him and he is letting that keep him from expressing himself. I know, lots of you would have suggestions for this, but we have tried them all.....

Church has been a little bit of a "bummer" lately as my good friend at church (the one that taught me about the inside of a gym) has left, and my favorite pastors have gone back to their home church. I will miss these people so much, but both of them have "spoken into" my life in such a wonderful way, that I will hold their memories dear. I grieve, but will heal. I know that both of these are doing what God asked them to do. My church will go on and I will meet and bond with others. Here, for some reason, has been the hardest place for me to find people to bond with Is it me? Is it something inherently wrong with me? I have such good friends everywhere I go except church. That makes me very sad. In every other place we have lived in, my church was my life, but here it is not. My life is very much outside of my church. Maybe God can change that.

As always a bright spot in my life is my marriage. "Darling husband" is so helpful and loving and kind to allow me to pursue my wishes and dreams. I thank God for his willing spirit to help me and the kids so much while continuing a challenging job. I fear I ask too much of him at times...

Monday, September 28, 2009

I LOVE Mushrooms!!!

For some weird reason, I am truly obsessed with mushrooms and photographing them. There is something for me about their snowy white color, their textures (all varied and different) against pretty green grass. I haven't gotten a really great picture yet, but that hasn't stopped me from trying. I will post more me, I have a LOT!!
Things are much more manageable this week with me having at least part of two days "off". That means that I don't have volunteering that I feel like I HAVE to do. The kids' bathrooms were a must-do, though and then I really wanted to see friend S. She came over and we ran around a little bit (to Target) but mostly we just talked, at WW meals together, and caught up. I miss her and am desperately feeling like with her stuff and my stuff, we are drifting apart....

Back to the bathrooms....I strongly feel that the kids should clean their own spaces and would love for that to happen, but so far, it has not. They occasionally clean their rooms usually under severe duress, but the bathrooms always wait for "dear old mom"....

When we were homeschooling, there was so much "free time" that I didn't feel the least bit bad making them clean their rooms and even do major chores around the house. Now that they are in school all day, and then have extra-curriculur activities and homework, I almost feel guilty asking them (or in all reality making them) do their chores. I say almost because I do ask, but it still doesn't always get done. I have pleaded, threatened, taken away privileges, taken away allowance, etc. and still their rooms and bathrooms are messy. They just don't care. They are angry when I take things away, but not uncomfortable enough to clean them!! Well, there is some point where the "health department" would be concerned (if they knew enough to come knocking) and that is when I step in and clean. So, almost an entire box of Clorox wipes and lots of bleach (not to mention other cleaners) later, I am satisfied (and the "health department" is kept away for another couple months). Seriously! IT WAS THAT BAD!!!

I am mad, though! Mad enough to tell them that they are either going to pay me to clean their bathrooms or do major chores of mine to make up for it. We will start with them doing the stairs, baseboards and vacuuming my room. Those are things they can do and should! Don't know when this is going to happen, but no "screen time" until they have done it!!

Hopefully they will want to chip in and help more....probably not, though....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It has been a long time since I have blogged regularly. Things at night are so busy with soccer, homework, picking up #2 from band practice, meetings for school, church, #1s group, and the list goes on and on. The days are not much better. I have been volunteering a lot at the elementary, ESL once a week, band uniforms, etc. My library volunteer gig is taking a back seat to these and I have been slacking on going to the gym. The most difficult thing for me is knowing what to give up. I am feeling a little over-committed. I can't give up Weight Watchers, but I had decided to go back to Ladies Prayer on Tuesdays and that was my regular WW day. So, I was going to switch to Thursdays, but that is the band uniform day (once a week, every week - you wouldn't believe how much work goes into these uniforms). Then I considered going to WW on Wednesdays (it meets very early), but I can't get there with taking #2 in early for Robotics Club.

Speaking of #2, he is over-committed too. He is going early every morning for Robotics and staying late every night for band except Wednesdays and on Wednesdays he does Robotics after school. His homework and classwork are suffering. He has two grades he needs to bring up.

The uniform gig is very time-consuming, but it is "fun" and the ladies have welcomed me with open arms....probably b/c they love having more help! The work is not necessarily hard, but time consuming and sometimes tedious. There are 230 or so uniforms to maintain, clean, swap out between white and black overalls, "chickens" to swap (the little feathers that go on the top of the hats), hat boxes to check....then we all go out for lunch. Some days they go back for more, but like today, I had to "beg off" to go do laundry at home.

This year is difficult with the kids' homework. #4 is taking a very long time each night and his spelling is killing us both. He struggles as usual to get it all down in writing anyway, and with his spelling being so is very hard at times. He is holding his own, but his grades are not wonderful, either.

#3 is doing the best, probably, but she is in the easiest year. She is hanging in there right now with all As and Bs. She had one C but so far has been able to bring it up.

#1 actually has had some homework and a project, so I am looking forward to having him involved more in the family's nightly regimen. He is so bad about hiding out when he doesn't have work to do. He has one class he has so far refused to work in and although his grades are based on participation, he has an 11 average in there. (That is out of 100 by the way!) We are working on getting him to work in there. Of course, it is English.

Why, oh why do all 4 of my children have such difficulty with this area. #2 didn't seem to be as bad until he got in high school. Now, he is struggling in this area, too.

I am worn out mostly, but not sleeping the best in the world. Why am I up right now? I drank tea for lunch and can't sleep. Why did I drink tea? So I could get my work and their work done without getting fatigued. I just traded fatigue for insomnia and the jitters.....

What do I really need? Time with my Father. Time to unwind with someone who really understands. Let me go get that taken care of.....and pray for me that I will be obedient when he tells me what to do and what to say "no" to.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Routine - Sorta

Things are settling in. School is becoming routine. I still hate the institution of school...not sure why, but it just takes so much out of our family. For us, though, it is a trade-off between taking more out of our family, or more pressure on one family member - me.

I relish the days when the things I have to do from 8-3 are basically what I want to do! I get to go to lunch with my friends, work out, shop if I want to (and can fit it in), and volunteer. I stay very busy, of course!!

The 3-9 or so is not how I would choose to spend my time - HOMEWORK, but it is a necessary "evil". There are also nightly meetings....this is really getting bad. Every night we have extra curricular stuff AND I have a meeting to go to. Sometimes this gets very hectic! Hopefully the school meetings will slow down. Some of that is because I have kids at four schools. That just adds up to more going on.

Band is pretty much all-consuming. He is kept after school four nights a week (one for a game) and I am working concessions, Band Boosters meetings, picking him up from practice, etc. It is a fun way to spend time, though, at least for me. Not sure he is all that "into it" right now.

So, on we plod through the school year. It isn't so bad. I am hoping it will get better. And having a pretty "happy" child is a change from last year. #2 is soooo much better. There are still issues, but he is not being pushed around so much. If I can get all of them to put out more effort on academics, we will be cruising. No one except me really cares about them doing their best. That is really my only complaint.

So far we have avoided the flu. I don't know how long that will last. They all have URIs or something right now, but nothing serious. Thanks, God!

I will blog my trip, I promise. I want to share so much, it is just hard to know how much anyone really cares to read. I will try, though. I do want to share some pictures. Maybe that is a good starting place.

Talk to you later....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Been a LONG time...

It has been soooo long since I blogged, not sure if I can get back into it. The summer is officially over, the school year has begun, and I am on a treadmill turned up WAY too fast!! I have friends with lots more kids than me, but right now, I can' t imagine handling more after school activities than I am. Josiah has band after school every weekday except Wednesday, Elisabeth and Isaac have piano, Benjamin has social skills group, Isaac has soccer, on and on....and right now are all the parent nights for four different schools...and volunteer opportunities....and Weight Watchers, and church commitments, and working out...never mind the cluttered house that we live with every day!

Whew! I know it will get better. My big setback came in the form of a wonderful mission trip to Peru that encompassed the first five days of school. When I got back, I landed into a pot of boiling water full of commitments and homework and band, band, band.

I will blog later about my mission trip, but let's just say that it was a great experience that I wouldn't take anything for, but it was not great timing for me. On the bright side, the kids did great and Kevin handled everything beautifully.

#3 really shone and became very responsible making supper, helping #4 with homework, and getting him ready for soccer practice. I was VERY proud of her. Not that there won't be bumps in the road, but overall, she is a different child from last year and definitely a different child from the year before. She is more responsible, helpful, kind, loving, and fun!

More about band - #2 ended the summer in band camp every day for two weeks. It was grueling, but amidst the heat, rigor and difficulty, I could see that he was rising to the challenge. He was happier than I had seen him in a long time this summer, and band camp did not squelch that at all! He met new friends, renewed old friendships, and just endured stuff that he had not wanted to endure last year. The band thing is more than we could have imagined as far as time commitment for him and us. There is chaperone training, uniforms to hem, plus just committing every Friday night to games. We are enjoying it, though. He says he will not be able to do band next year, but I think he might decide to. He is feeling the crush of academics and the other things he wants to do like Engineering Academy. Next year, he feels that he has to take Latin II (he is taking I this year), Driver's Ed, Computer Applications (required course), plus his regular load and Engineering Academy is an elective. This will probably mean that he has to take a "zero period" class which makes for a long day. I know if he wants to, he can do it, but he doesn't want to right now.

The classes he is taking are going to get challenging for him, but so far, he is wanting to do well and make good grades. He has not needed any threats or coercion like last year. He just gets home and gets on it. It usually doesn't take him long to get it done, either. He still has time to play video games, Legos and have some family time. It helps that the older two have a whole hour in the morning after the "little ones" get off to hang out. We can use this for study time when he has tests, but for now, he can play a little video games or something fun.

I am still pinching myself that so far he has not been bullied or picked on. His attitude is different and he is handling things differently. He has changed. He is happy. He will still try to convince you that he is not, but we know differently! He is noticing that other people are teased and they are ignoring it. He has a "posse" of people who are in the band to hang out with.

#1 is keeping us on our toes, too. He is feeling his teenaged years a little more every day and feels the need to exert his independence. No wonder! He is 18, after all!! He is still the sweet, gentle lanky guy from last year, but he is wanting his own way more and deciding more and more what is right for him. We are mostly ok with that. I want him to grow up, but I need him to know with that comes responsibility. He is still volunteering at the zoo and having a good time with it. He loves seeing the animals and being around the zoo people. We are still hoping for some employment opportunity there eventually. Who knows?! I do know that it stretches him and gives him something to do that is his own! That is very good for him! He has his chores and his group. I am looking for him to take more initiative with stuff around the house, but that hasn't happened yet. He still waits to be told.

The hardest case for me right now is #4 and his homework issues. He comes home tired of sitting and doing work. Plus, he is very resistant to writing at all (even though it isn't that much of a hardship). So homework with him looms very large in the midst of all the other stuff going on after school hours. I really "earn my keep" getting that done. Last night, #3 and #4 were arguing at the homework table because he was whining and she wanted him to be quiet and I couldn't get him to do his work at all. It ended up with them on the floor doing his homework together...don't know how this happened, but I was cool with it! She has matured so much that she can see that he and I need help! She can step in and manipulate him into doing it. She sometimes helps him too much, but the good thing about her helping him is that it helps her to go over those little math concepts, problem-solving, etc. He listens to her when he won't listen to me. He is also complaining about social issues, but I am pretty sure these will iron themselves out.

Sweet husband and I are fitting in time for each other when we can and trying to keep it sane. I keep telling myself that I will settle in and get reaquainted with my life in the fast lane. I just need time. I am still very fatigued at times from not getting hardly any sleep for about 12 days. It will get better. My body is still recovering. I have been to work out twice since I got home. Hopefully this will help me to recover.

Well, time for me to head to Ladies Prayer. I will blog my trip later.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Summer begins....

We have so much planned for this summer, I am questioning my sanity!  It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep four kids busy, especially since they all have different interests and different needs.  

#2 needs to be busy as he will just end up on the video games all day.  So, we booked him in a camp pretty much per week.  He is doing a musical theatre camp this week and next.  The following week he has AP Boot Camp to get ready for his two pre-AP classes he has this year.  The following week, he will be in Engineering Camp offered through the local university.  Trust me, the kid still finds plenty of time for vegging with games because these camps end at about 2:00 each day.  He will also have one camp in July (Lego Robotics) and band activities here and there.  He is easily my busiest child this summer, totally by my choice.  

#1 will continue volunteering at the zoo throughout the summer at least two days a week.  He also has agreed to do a swimming activity through the local Rec Center.  It involves swimming laps for an hour and a half twice a week.  It is in their therapeutic recreation program and involves people of all ages with disabilities.  Hopefully, it will lead to him doing their special needs swim team in the fall.  They do meets, retreats, and activities together.  

#3 and #4 are the least busy with only piano and advanced swimming lessons.  They are very unhappy to do any of this, but they need to get out and meet people.  If I don't force involvement on #3, she will lay on the couch and read all day, every day.  Not a terrible activity, but not active at all and not interactive (social).  #4 would rather be at the pool or on video games all day, but he needs some exercise and stimulation.  So, I have come up with a minimum of activity that I think they need to do.  #3 has also agreed to go help one of our church's youth leaders with her stuff one day (or a portion of a day) each week.  I am also challenging her to have one social activity per week (mall, crafts, have someone over to hang out, etc.)  She will also go to one week of youth camp in July.  #4 went to three days of church camp, which he enjoyed.  He also has one week of camp in July at McWane Science Center called "Cuttin' Up", which involves dissecting things.  

So, if you add up all the traveling back and forth to take them to activities, you can see where my time is being spent - on the road!  I am already tired of it, but the 1-2 hours I have off every day after all of the running around is done, are very cherished.  They are not spent at Wal-mart or the mall.  They are spent with my feet up and a good book in my hands (or of course, the computer).....well, that and laundry, housework, and get the idea.   My days are full.

What is suffering is my exercise.  I had built up to about 10 miles on the stationary bike (45 minutes). I don't feel really good at all leaving my kids to go to "work-out".  I am hoping to find a friend in my neighborhood to walk with me early in the morning.  That will help me tremendously.  If not, I might have to go work out very early alone.  Not my favorite time if I am going alone, but it will work.  And, all of this running around leaves little time to snack a lot.  

So, our summer is all mapped out with a wonderful trip to the Rockies coming up and a cherished weekend alone with my wonderful husband at a little lodge about 2 hours away.  This weekend away from all the kids has not happened in over 10 years, so that is something I am really anticipating.  

The blessings of being out of school of course go on and on.  No teasing, no bullies, no homework, no extremely early mornings, little stress.....I do love my kids being around more, too.  They are people I enjoy being around.  I am cherishing this season in our lives where I am still the only driver and the kids are still dependent on me for transportation.  Although it is tiring carting them around, this season will be over soon and they will be on their own.  I am seeing how quickly that happens.  


Monday, May 18, 2009

It's a Wrap! (Well almost....)

Except for 3 more exams for #2, the school year is pretty much done.  We have almost made it.  Let's not celebrate yet, but the kids are pretty much in a celebratory mood.

 #1 and #3 did amazingly well!  It was truly a great year for #3!  She worked hard, came into her own academically, for sure.  #4 did pretty good with his academics, but there is always a longing in my heart for him to really show us what he can do.  I feel that he is always dallying around (so-to-speak) and not really putting forth much effort.  

For #2, though, we are celebrating that he doesn't have to enter a painful place called "middle school" ever again.  He has been in pain much of the year and struggled not to let it ruin his grades as well.  He made a really good friend this year, but other than that, we were just glad that the year is almost over.  Since this is the kid who can normally listen in class, not study much at all, and make a B on a test, I look for him to not have too much trouble with the last 3 exams.  However, his heart is not in it.  He is already "checked out" of school.  I am hoping for a "healing" summer.  I am hoping for him to find again what brings him joy.  I am hoping that he will enjoy new pursuits like theatre and engineering through the camps he is enrolled in.  I am also hoping for a love of band to be kindled through building relationships with those in the group.  I am hoping for a banner year.  I am hoping most of all for him to feel free of the bonds of middle school.  I know that if he can get over this year and have a good year next year, he can do most anything!  He is very bright, sweet, kind, and sincere.  I don't think those at his school have seen the child I know or appreciated the gifts he has.  My heart is grieved about this, but there is hope.  God has given me hope for a better future - a future with #2 fulfilling his potential.  

"In everything give thanks for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus, concerning you."  So God, I thank you for the trials we went through knowing (or at least hoping) that you will work them out for our good.  I love that you have the power to do that in our lives.  I rest in that assurance. My hope is in you, dear, loving, Father.  My hope is in you!  

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Favorite Three Places to Work

My life, at least right now, is made up of a lot of volunteer opportunities and parenting my kids.  It seems that this is a lot lately, though and has me busy every day.  I have many things that I will volunteer for, but the 3 favorites are:  1) Teaching young girls at church 2) Working with the people at ESL classes and 3) Working in the middle school library.  

I have to say, in all three of these, of course, the "draw" is the people.  I could care less about teaching a curriculum, even one based on the Bible without those little connections with my students.  

In the library, getting to talk to the librarian and librarian assistant is often a high point in my week.  Not only do I get to talk to them, but my #2s friends all work in there, so every time I volunteer, I get to see his friends.  Strangely, my two middle-schoolers don't use the school library, so I never get to see them (maybe it is because I buy them too many of the books they want - yes, it is a almost a disease how many we buy).  Anyway, I have gotten to know these friends better and have been encouraged by this interaction.  

The librarian herself is funny, sweet, intelligent and loves books.  What better friend for me than that!  It also helps me to feel that on this somewhat difficult and hostile campus (especially for #2), I have allies.  I have people there that know me and through me, know my kids.  These two ladies have listened to me about a lot of stuff that has happened with my children.  They have encouraged me and helped me in so many ways.  The work itself, well, it is hard sometimes, taxing, tedious, but I feel like I have made progress when I leave.  The shelves are straighter and more in order.  And, I joke that I am "making friends" with the nonfiction - the most difficult area in the library.  Not only that, but this little window is almost a workout in and of itself.  I feel completely worn out when I leave.  Just think, I am lifting weights, pulling and pushing weights, kneeling and standing over and get the idea.  

Of course, the reason I volunteer is to make the world a better place, hopefully, but I get so much out of it myself.  I get uplifted, encouraged, and learn so much.  I feel that one benefit of putting the children in school is that we are so much more integrated into the community and have met so many interesting people.  I wouldn't take anything for the friends (and acquaintances) I have made through the school and community connections we have made. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Winding Down

The ending of school is different for my four kids.  The oldest and youngest have parties, fun stuff and interesting things to do.  For the middle two, it is a little more complicated.  #2 has final exams up through the very last day of school, and major projects that are coming due.  #3 still has classes as normal and normal homework.  We are making it, though.  I am sure going to be glad when it is all done.  #2s project for his L.A. class is an illustrated children's book complete with original illustrations.  He did a very good job on the drawings.   I would have been FREAKING over this project as I can't draw.  

Funny that my kids are so much more artsy than I was.  Maybe it was because they had all those homeschooling years to practice their creativity.  Three of my kids draw very well and two of them are pretty much "global" learners.  By that I mean that they are good at auditory skills and visual skills.  Both of these kids are also science-y and math-y and great artists!  I find this an amazing combination.  Maybe that is the engineering gene that Kevin has, or is that an architectural gene....not sure.  

Anyway, I will post more art-work later.  #2 is usually pretty mechanical in his drawing, #3 is more soft curves and animal or fantasy drawings, #4 is very much into the cartoon thing with "CRASH" and "BOOM" peppering his drawings.  

Back to the school thing, we will make it and each day we get closer to the end.  It will end none too soon for #2.  This is quite probably the hardest school year he will have, at least from the social standpoint.  I keep hearing this from everyone and I pray it is true.  He is pretty negative about himself right now.  I have to keep working on his self-esteem....and it is hard work.  

Along with the frustration of how #2s peers see and treat him is the affirmation that he gets from adults.  The adults around us, find him charming, handsome and interesting.  I have to believe that it will all come out in the wash.  He is all those things and more.  I have to hope for the gifts he has to help him find his way.  God has blessed him and has His hand on him.  I know that, without a doubt!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Special Olympics

These are random pictures that I wanted to share:  #1 all dressed up for the Special Needs Prom, younger three and Kevin at the Maronite church - site of the Lebanese festival.  The third one, #2 took because he thought it was so neat to see Kevin and I with our matching laptops....

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I Can't Help it!

This is a picture of my friend's baby taken on Kevin's iphone.  We were just hanging out with the "Subject to Change" Cadre (middle schoolers) from our church near our house at the creek.  This picture was not staged and as the three of us ladies sat there admiring her, we couldn't stand not photographing her.  She is so photogenic, but alas, doesn't like to get pictures made.  Isn't she sweet!  My friend won't care, I hope....

We had a grand time with this group!  They are so random, fun, caring, and...well, at times, even odd.  But, we love them!  They are like my middle two's little family within the youth group.  

There were a few VSMs (Very Special Moments) like seeing three little girls (6th graders) innocently holding hands as we walked to the creek, cooking s'mores on the firepit, watching a movie with them in the basement, picking wildflowers along the path, wading and catching crawfish with R.'s very stinky sock, having every kid around wet from knees down (at the very least), and, in general just spending the afternoon and evening together.  

Friday, April 24, 2009

Eyes Full of Tears...Please Read!

Please read and if you know this is going on in someone's life around you, PLEASE INTERVENE!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

On Contract

Kids, it seems, however much they like to think they are in control, really want structure that you provide.  I had always heard this, and knew it was true of much younger children, but until recently, didn't realize it works for teens as well.  My daughter, although a good kid and very quiet, was becoming more and more belligerent and quarrelsome about the things I wanted her to do.  These things weren't unreasonable, like cleaning her room (not to perfection, of course), going to church, exercising, and getting out socially (she would rather sit in her room and read over all other activities).  It had gotten to the point where we were struggling to get her to do ANY thing that she didn't want to do....anything that wasn't laying around reading.  Over the course of a few weeks, it got bad and then went from bad to worse.  I knew we had to put a stop to it, but was clueless as to how.  

After one particularly bad episode, I decided that she was allowed to "rule her own world" way too much and was thus put into a tailspin when we asked her to do something (anything).  So, after much thought, I decided that she needed some structure and help with this.  I told her that she was NOT to lock her door except when dressing (we really intended to take the lock off, but didn't).  She also was NOT allowed to spend more than two hours in her room alone a day.  

You see, previously, she was going up to her room, locking her door, and not coming down at all except to eat supper and that at times was a struggle.  We couldn't tell her goodnight or tuck her in unless she so chose.  Often, when we would knock, she would say, "Not now, I am busy."  How infuriating that was for us.  Of course, we could make her open up (or unlock it with our secret parent keys) and then we would talk to her about her behavior, but she went right back to it.   So, we made this contract and told her if she violated it, she would begin to lose her stuff in her room - her books, her "toys", her art supplies, etc.  I wrote up a contract and had her sign it.  

The thing is, it worked like a charm!!  She has not fought us on the church thing even one time since then, she has been enjoying me going up to lay down with her at night and tuck her in, she follows the rule about not locking most of the time and when I find it locked for no apparent reason, she gladly remembers our rule and lets us in.  Not only that, in the last week, she has cleaned up her room very nicely (previously it was a health concern it was so bad), and yesterday, she decided she needed to go practice basketball and asked me to come help her practice (exercise)!!  This has been the hardest thing for me to tackle.  I know my kids need more physical activity, but with homework and extra reading, it has been hard to get them to do it.  And add onto that the fact that they are not athletic so they don't have a sport they enjoy.  
Anyway, she is so much happier, I am a part of her life now, and she is not spending all that time alone.  She still finds plenty of time to read and do art, but often she involves us more in her projects.  She also tells me about her day while I am laying down next to her.  I play with her hair and try not to fall asleep.  Things aren't perfect, but they are so much better that it is like it is not even the same child.  

Bottom line, I believe that kids and even teens, can NOT be allowed to rule their own lives.  They needs us.  And, of course we need them.  In my mind, one reason we, as Christians have kids is to be involved in their lives so much that discipleship takes place.  And without the time together, we can't disciple them.   I feel that at 13 (and newly that), she still needs guidance.  She will not make the best decisions if left totally on her own.  I am hoping that this deepens our relationship.  I am hoping for a rich, deep relationship when she is going through the more difficult years to come.   And one day, when she does achieve independence, I am hoping for a rich deep relationship that grows stronger from sharing our lives together.  I am hoping for the best!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Sunday

Exercise- Wah, Wah, Wah....

I have been on this quest for fitness as I have shared before.  One problem....I am not feeling better....I am very tired all the time.  So tired that I feel like about a third of the time I could lie down almost anywhere and fall asleep.  So, I am trying to keep myself better hydrated.  I am hoping that not drinking enough water is really the problem.  

Yesterday, I wanted to get the kids out and so we picked up some food from the grocery store and headed to the park.  On the way there, I got very sleepy and fatigued.  When we had eaten, I should have walked around and played with the kids....instead, I wanted to lie down on a blanket and fall asleep.  Is this me getting old?  I don't feel old, except for the fatigue and the endless aches and pains from tennis elbow, knees, etc.  This has to get better....

Today, I am going to try a spinning class with my friend and workout partner, R.  She has been pushing me from day one.  I am somewhat along for the ride, but I do enjoy her spirit and enthusiasm.  And I am on a mission to change her eating habits.  So, maybe we can influence each other.  

So last week, we rode 8+ miles on a stationary bike two days in a row, and then Friday we did a step aerobics class.  I could NOT keep up with the teacher.  I couldn't see her well, couldn't hear her at all and I am very uncoordinated, so keeping up was a challenge.  I finally gave up for a long period in the middle and just stepped on and off the steps.  She would do some new thing twice and then move I was just getting it and she was on something else.  The rest of the class was doing all this fancy footwork and neat routines.  A couple of times I just started to tear up and I fought back the tears and kept was tough.  I was relieved when she asked us to run three laps around the gym!!  That I could do!!!!  And I felt that I couldn't leave and leave my steps out there and I really wanted to finish the class.  This was almost tougher the first two or three times at tennis.  

This will get better.  I will keep myself hydrated and find something that fits me.  I am going to conquer this.  Thanks for "listening".

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Day in the Life

Tonight was the parent night for my 8th grader's hall.  I drug him kicking and screaming to the event.  It was REALLY fun and I saw the teachers in a whole new light!!  I might actually like them now!  We made "illuminated manuscripts" complete with Latin text, solved math problems that were based on Medieval times, saw their pop-up books that they made about life in Medieval times (yes, this is 8th grade!), endured the torture chamber, and deciphered a Medieval contract. Each activity we got correct, we were given 10 farthings.  The farthings go to extra points and we earned all we could earn!!  At the end of the meeting, we got to leave input or constructive criticism for the teachers.  Mine was that they "encourage their students more".  When we were leaving, I turned to #2 and asked him if he was glad he went and he said he was!  He had a great time!!  He is struggling, but I saw teachers and students affirm him tonight!!  I asked him which pop-up was his and the other student said, "It's the coolest one!"  And one of the teachers said he was smart in an off-hand way.  Bonus:  I think there might be a girl that has been flirting with him and he is completely clueless!!!  

 On the down side, he is fighting homework with all he has and is being a complete pill about it.   The day after testing ends, they pile on the homework as if to make up for the last two weeks when they couldn't give it out.    

Teacher's Shower

My oldest son who is in 10th grade (but almost 18!!!) has a disability called PDD-NOS (which stands for a mouthful - Pervasive Developmental Delay - Not Otherwise Specified).  He is in a "contained" room most of the school day but leaves for about three periods of the day.  

His teacher is pregnant with her first baby, so I decided she needed a shower - not for the other teachers, but for the kids to be involved) and when the aide told me no one else was doing one, I told her I would do it.  I never dreamed that I would be doing it all by myself.  But, this is not a wah-wah post of how hard it was (although it was hard), this post is to just say that I feel very lucky.  

My child, although delayed and different than all other "typical" kids, is very sweet, good-natured, and well-liked.  His teachers love him and think he is the "bees-knees".  Even strangers find him charming and most adult females all say the same thing, "He's a doll!"  Part of his legacy is very strange to me as he is so different from the typical kid and isn't all that social at home.  He IS social at school and his Speech Path. says he is a "social butterfly".  

From the time of toddlerhood, when we would go out into public (grocery stores, pools, etc.), he was the first of my four to make a friend.  He would always have someone to play with.  However odd he was, others were drawn to him.  He IS very sweet and "non-threatening" and kids are happy for him to be in their lives.  Usually the kids were younger than him and often typical, although he has those who aren't too.  

So this is not so much of a contrast with most of his classmates, but for the ones on the autism spectrum, he is VERY social, loves people, and gets along quite well.  Which makes me think that he is not all that autistic (I guess I knew this all along, but this reinforces that whole knowledge).  He is still very odd and somewhat ritualistic even about the way he moves, walks and talks, but he is much more flexible than most with autism.  

His classmates on the other hand, scream when someone touches them and nonverbal or only slightly verbal.  I also can't help noticing the kids with Down's who are very social (like #1), but with other issues.  I am blessed for him to be as "easy" to parent as he is.  I say "easy" because no kid is particularly easy, but he is not always going around with a chip on his shoulder, always feeling left out (although he is a lot), always angry, never getting along with anyone, and on and on.....

And for the shower, it was FUN!  It was fun to see the teacher's surprise when she saw her mother and two aunts there.  It was fun to be able to give so many a great, enjoyable time.  It was fun to see #1 in his element, joking and laughing with his friends.  It was fun to be a part of his school experience.  And, it was fun to do something for the teacher who does so much for so many.  Teaching, I know is MUCH more than a is a calling...and I was happy to give to her in this way.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Use of Time - Mine and Theirs

Lately I feel that I am either swamped with stuff and overwhelmed, or completely free and not making good use of my time.  For instance, if I don't have a prior engagement, I should be working on the constant clutter that invades my space.  Instead, I am finding something to do like working out (not a bad thing) or finding someone to go to lunch with (again not bad), or spending time on Facebook (terrible, as it is a huge time-waster for me).  I will do better, I will.  Maybe it takes scheduling it in like anything else.  How often do I need to devote to my house?  No idea.  I do know that I am not meant to be one of these moms that stays home 24/7 cleaning and straightening, and I don't want my kids to think that they don't have to lift a finger.  But, I tend to leave stuff for them because I don't want to clean up after them, and then it never gets done.  I am tired of the chaos, especially in their rooms. Right?? (DUH!).  And, I haven't quite figured out how to get this done other than having them earn game time.  

Last Saturday, I did tell them that they had to earn their Wii time.  I told them it had to be earned with exercise or work around the house.  So, my #4 decided to mop the kitchen floor.  Of course, you would think when was done and being rewarded by playing for 20 minutes, the others would get wise, but that didn't happen.  They are thinking of how to get to play.  Their minds are in gear, but they don't want to exert themselves too much (grin).  

Maybe my solution is to make myself earn my free time.  I do try to do laundry if I am sitting down to watch TV during the day.  I do try to do a chore before I "play".  The one area I need to work on is clutter.  Not JUST my responsibility, but I can do something about it.  Here I go!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Church Family

After about 4 years in our present city (6 months in a apartment and 3 1/2 years in a home) we are finally feeling somewhat a part of our church family.  For about 3 1/2 of those years, I felt that if I sunk down into the floor during worship service, no one would even notice that we had disappeared.  The "being a part of things" hasn't happened overnight.   

You see, being part of a family for me is having friends of various ages much like in a real "blood kin" family.  So, I now have a couple friends about my own age, friends younger (like my little sisters), friends older (older sisters), and friends that are my "moms".  

For a long time, the only friends I had were those almost my mom's age.  That was fine, but there was no balance and they weren't in the same place in their lives as I was.  It got tiring to hear of all their spare time, their "Red Hat" fun, their cruises and trips to all over, their grandkids, and their friendships.  I love these ladies and they are always there for me if I need a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on, but I sometimes felt that I had nothing to give them back.  Now, with a new Sunday School class, our once a month Friday family fellowship, and consistently helping with childcare on Wednesday nights (mainly so I can talk to my "little sister" friend and enjoy her company), I finally feel that I have an (almost) complete family to be a part of.  

There are still times I feel left out because I don't have a "ton" of friends in my stage of life and I see it happening a lot for those younger AND older.  Most of those my age are pretty much unavailable either physically or emotionally.  (I think having teens zaps your energy in more ways than one.) But now at least,  I have hope for more....hope for my life to be filled and my heart to be full HERE in my town, not just in the towns we have lived in before.  I love my friends in those places, but I don't want to long for them and be in pain to think that I may never have that again.  I want to be completely whole.  I do think it will happen.  Not sure exactly when and where, but it is coming SLOWLY.  

So, after writing this yesterday, I had to call my friend in Memphis.  It was so good to have her listen to me, support me and listen to her back and feel her accept me as no one quite does here (yet).  I remarked that I sometimes feel that I know more about Memphis and what is happening there than I do about what it going on here.....that when a friend has a baby, I overhear someone else talking about visiting them, but it takes about 3-4 days before I have "official word of the baby's name and size.  And, when someone else is sick or hurt or was sick or hurt, it takes about two weeks before I know ANYthing about it (by then the crisis is over).  So, despite feeling more a part, sometimes I feel that there are still miles to go. 

The consistently "reaching out" on my end has to keep happening.  And, having random groups of people over has to keep happening even if there is no reciprocity.  I keep searching, keep reaching, keep looking and it will happen.  I know that there is a part of my life that these people have no clue about, but that is how it is when you move in and have to establish relationships where you are at.  They don't know your history.  However, they can accept you with your present and you can grow in friendship from there.  That is what has to happen.  I am ready for it!  After finding out what doesn't work and who it is NOT going to be with, I am going to find who it IS going to be with.  And my new friends, those that accept me here, I am so blessed to have them.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

All It Takes

All it takes is a trip to Wal-Mart to remind me how hard it is to parent a girl.  My girl doesn't like clothes, looking cute or (Gosh forbid) dressing up.  When we are together, I want to buy her clothes, she doesn't want them or doesn't care and she for sure doesn't want to try them on.  Except when I ask her to try them on, she refuses and then when I get miffed and say that will require an extra trip for me to take them back if they don't fit she says, "See Mom, you really like to make people feel guilty."

After that comment, do you think she got candy or anything she wanted?  NO!!!

I guess on the other side of the coin, I am buying her something she really doesn't want or care about and asking her to do something for my convenience....

This kid is not the one to make me feel warm and least not at this stage in the game. 

Because I am feeling like this post is almost an attempt to get back at her for bad behavior or her personality issues, she and I have been attempting to bond more lately.  I guess I know that she might not feel that she needs it, but she DOES, and I need it too.  I didn't have a daughter to have her be a stranger.  So, there have been some ups as well as downs, like going together to get our toenails done, me laying in bed next to her praying for her, playing with her hair and blow-drying it, enjoying a good joke together, and reading all the little sheets from #2s tear-off calendar (Ripley's Believe It or Not) and getting grossed out at times.  

She is still the one who will chose other things over video games (unlike the boys) and will spend "girly-time" with me especially if there is something in it for her - {GRIN}!!

The Gym

My latest fun thing for me is going to the gym......seriously!  I finally figured out that walking and Wiifit wasn't going to do all I needed it to.  I found a friend who worked out and was a gym member and joined where she went (our town's recreation center).  She worked out with me for a couple weeks (we are getting back to that some day), but she had a few things come up and had to drop out for a while.  Amazingly, I kept going, often going more than my goal of 3 times a week.  When I was working out with my friend, we did a lot of stuff and often worked out for 2 hours.  

Now that I am in the driver's seat, I am not pushing myself as much.  Here is my schedule:  23 minutes of elliptical (trying to build the time slowly), ab work (painful), arm work or leg work (alternating), and another 15 or 20 minutes of cardio (typically a stationary bike).  I am increasing my endurance and slowly, very slowly losing weight, but other than that, not a lot of soreness (surprisingly) and not a lot of tightening up.  Right now, I see it as a time to build up and establish some consistency with the routine of it (not kill myself).  Eventually, I am sure without my friend to guide me, I will hire a personal trainer for some of my time at the gym, maybe once a week or so.  I feel better about myself doing this.  I also somehow feel decadent having this thing that is for no one else.....nothing else in my routine (except hair cuts and color) is purely for me.....not wrong, it just feels weird.  

The other part of my new fitness emphasis that I am almost afraid to mention is that I have started tennis lessons.  I am afraid to mention it since I am still soooo beginner and soooooo bad that it is still very embarassing to mention.  But, I am making progress.  My forehand is meeting the ball and kind of going where it is supposed to.  My backhand is NOT good!!!  I am enjoying practicing serves, except for picking up all the balls afterward.  

I initially envisioned all three of the younger kids taking with me and having a blast together and learning a new fun family thing.  No one would do it except #4 (well, even him I made participate) and he hated it.  He finished his lessons (only 6) this past Monday night and will do baseball (again enforced participation) for the spring.  I am hoping to get him back in tennis in the summer and really give him time to get better at it.  I am looking for baseball to be quite painful too as he is afraid of the ball and typically whiny.  But, on we plod, looking for something active for him to do that might actually turn out to be fun (fat chance).  

The other kids occasionally go with me or Kevin and I to the gym to work out.  They do some cardio.  I want #1 and #2 to begin doing some weights, but they are very resistant to it right now.  

This summer, I am hoping to tie the gaming stuff at our house to exercise.  They will get a one-on-one swap for the time they spend exercising with their video games.  And for #3, I will have to tie it to how much $$ I spend on her books or how much time I spend at the library with her.  That way, maybe she will get more active.  Ok, I know that sounds mean, but I am just brainstorming....

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Playing on Crab Island
My first attempt at getting a "beach" picture
When we rented the boat, we found this little private beach.  The kids were delighted to find LOTS of hermit crabs there.
#2 and his latest hat and pose
#3 when she actually let me take a picture of her (and she was smiling!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Beach Vacation

Spring break this year was spent in Destin.  Two of the kids were saying they didn't want to go.  Who wouldn't want to go to the beach?!!  Anyway, we cut the trip down to less days and decided to go anyway.  They have had a good time once we got here.  The weird thing is that without "full" cable at home, their idea of a vacation is getting to watch TV all day long.  We had to bribe them to get them out of the house.  

We rented a "big enough" apartment with enough beds for everyone to sleep (although no one would sleep on the top bunk, so we had to use the couch).  Other than the TV thing, the bed thing, the sharing the bathroom thing, the food thing (everyone wanting to eat 24/7, including me - not good for weight loss efforts), the inactivity thing, the sunburn thing, the cold water thing, and the #1 being sick the last day thing, it was pretty good!  

The highlight was definitely renting a pontoon boat (always thought it was plontoon when I was a kid- but no matter) and going out to crab island for the day.  We had a great time!  The water was freezing, but we braved it and enjoyed the feel of a huge, crystal clean swimming pool with about 2 1/2 foot water in it.  I will share the pictures when we get back home. 

Every time we go to the beach, I attempt to take pictures and my kids are not very coolBulleted List with that.  They think I am the paparazzi.  I asked them to cooperate for my birthday or Mother's day or something.  They "kind of" cooperated and we did a very short photo shoot on the beach with the sun going down for the day.  I can't tell yet how they came out, but let's just say, cooperating is a relative term.....#4 was constantly telling me that I would have to photoshop out his tongue!  

Another thing, our teenagers lately, are a whole new breed, it seems....our #2 keeps saying things that he feels we should take no offense to, and we amazingly don't, but if anyone else said it, we would be totally offended......

It also seems that the hygiene concerns are unending and we are constantly bribing them to get the basics done....yes, there is a lot of bribing going on at our house.....I can hear their little minds saying, "What's in it for me?"  With my "super-nose" (very sensitive - very much a curse), I am constantly feeling overwhelmed with the smells of teens and preteens....

#2 is still having this weird thing about hats....I am fine with it, but I am thinking this might be a bit strange.  He looks very dapper, though, in the latest version.  Each day he seems to change a bit more.  Right now, he is growing some major "man legs" complete with thick muscles,  all of this with the same little 5 foot 1/2 inch body.  

Speaking of change, #1 is now officially taller than his dad!!  This is the child who took growth hormone for a couple of years....and his body continues to look like it is stretched out.......very long and thin.  He needs some of the weight of the rest of us!  

I feel very scattered in my post today....I am hoping that everyone isn't completely weirded out by the vastness of the topics.  And, I am hoping this won't be a post that my kids will be embarassed by later....but I am pretty sure it will be...

Tomorrow we head home and have a couple restful days before the kids head back to school.  I will miss them, I am sure.  I love having them home with me and of course, LOVE having "Honey" home with me.  I need routine, though....gym, diet, my stuff, my bed, my LIFE!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

In Over My Head

There is a constant feeling that I have.  It is that of being "in over my head".  With three teenagers (or technically two and one more in a month), I feel that whatever I do is not enough.  The kids can be kind, loving, and wonderful to parent, but they can also be mean, vindictive and difficult to parent.  I think that putting them in school at an older age is magnifying what would already happen.  They are experiencing garbage happen every day and they are bringing it home.  This is not cool!!!  They know this, but it still seems to happen.  I am trying to trust God that it will all come out o.k.  I know that God is there and he is helping me.  I can NOT do this without his help.  I pray often that he gives me wisdom.  Maybe that is what life's difficulties are about for the Christian.....learning to lean on him and his help.  I just had a discussion about the way we talk to each other with my #2.  The sum up of that discussion was to be teflon, not velcro.  

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fixing the kids

We have found that one of the pitfalls of raising teens is that they are very adept at their attempts to divide mom and dad.  So, we figured out that this was going on in our family and we didn't like it, so what did we do?  We fixed them!!  We started doing more kissing and hugging in front of the children.  We started reminding them that we are in cahoots.  We started taking up for each other every time we had the opportunity!  Things get better and worse with the kids and better and worse and up and down, but with my honey and I, things are REALLY good right now.  He is my guy and I am his gal!!!  So, kids, you can't succeed in dividing us....AND you will be all the better for it!

Friday, February 27, 2009


I love creativity!  I think when I was homeschooling the thing that pleased me most was not the good grades or the worksheets done right, but it was when my kids thought outside the box and created something unique.  I have three VERY creative kids.  Not bad considering that I am not always very creative.  I have a drive to create, but often don't know what form that will take (and quite truthfully although the drive is there, the time and gumption to follow through is not), but my kids, on the other hand draw, paint, write poetry, stories, class newspapers, comic strips, and 3-D art creations.  I asked my #2 if I could share a poem with you and he said that I enjoy!  One other note:  this is the child who didn't like to write until he went to school and had a teacher that really encouraged him in his writing.  He now has decided that he would like to one day write a book.

It was an early morning sunrise
The beautiful day was quite a surprise
But we ignored all that, we were having fun
"Come on let's go out for a run."
Out and about in the cold morning air
Around and around mere inches to spare
We were laughing and playing in the cold morning air
The parents shook heads saying "My! What a pair!"

Then whirling and spinning on the dew covered lawn
Mom called for breakfast and then we were gone
Into the house to eat a fine meal
Away from the hearts of iron and steel
But in a safe place with hearts filled with care
And beautiful flowers and bird songs in the air
Those days back in May
My! Oh my!  What a fine day! 

One other note:  this poem was accompanied by a dark, dreary (don't want to scare you, so I won't share it) poem.  He told me that he wrote the dark, scary poem while the girls were singing on the bus.  He says when they sing, they are actually screaming.....I guess he was fed up!  So, when I read them both, I saw the two very different parts to his personality, both of which I see frequently as he is a typical teenager.....AND, kind of funny to see his reaction to what was going on around him!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blogging about Teens

Ok, I write most of my blogs about the experiences that I go through with my children and I enjoy the "release" it gives me to blog the good and the bad.  However, having teenagers, it is hard to see how they will see this one day.  They often tell me with embarrassing situations, "Mom, please just don't put this on your blog."  So, I have to be careful about how much I reveal and be gentle with their feelings and how this will affect them.

On that note, one of my kids had what could only be termed a "VERY BAD DAY" this week.  He reacted poorly, the other individuals acted poorly and it all turned into a middle-school "train wreck".  We always hear that kids are resilient and they are.  I can attest to that.  I feel a little bruised.  I think if the truth be told, he feels a little bruised, too.  But, he made it through and we are still not sure of the consequences of what happened.  

The part that angered me and still does is that the teacher involved is still "hell-bent" on what is "fair" and thinking punitively about what happened.  I want, for this particular child, not what is "fair", but what is "right", what is "good", what will help him in the long run.  I feel that he made decisions with a immature brain and body riddled with hormones and the teacher was somewhat disrespected (but likely more embarrassed) and she wants to "wring it out" of him.  

On the other hand, I require respect and obedience and disrespect and disobedience can not be let go.  I do feel that after all we have gone through with the principal, he will do what is right.  I trust him and his judgement.  I wouldn't relish the thought of having to take the teacher's punishment.  I think she might be fair, but not do what is right.  

Bottom line, I have to make my child see all aspects of this situation.  He must understand how the teacher feels, why she did what she did, and that the consequences must be met head-on.  He must see that although he acted immaturely, he can and must do better next time.  This part is the most hard.  I just want to hug him and make him feel better, not tell him that he might be punished and how to not repeat an episode like this.   

But, alas, the episode is in the not too distant memory for both of us and although I feel bruised, I too will get over it and move on.  I think this is one more thing that makes me feel like I would NEVER (yes that is me yelling) want to repeat this year.  I might not feel like my child is ready for high school (too small, too nice) but he IS (yelling again) going to high school next year.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

High School Vs. Middle School

High school registration continues to be a stressful topic at our house.  And yes, I know this will just go away eventually and we won't have to think about it for another year.  

He made a couple choices that I wasn't sure about and one that I knew was incorrect.  He really wants to be in the Engineering Academy.  I am cool with that, but a prerequisite for acceptance is Algebra.  Because he had no standardized test scores before last year, he was not put into Pre-Algebra last year and therefore could not take Algebra last year.  I should have fought it, but not knowing the ramifications of this, I didn't know to fight it.  Unfortunately, the decisions about math  in middle school (and therefore) high school, are made in 5th grade.  My child was an "unknown" so he was put in the lower class.  

I think what my sisters says about high school vs. middle school is correct.  In middle school, you are still made to fit into the box.  In high school, you can define your OWN box.  In #2s case, this means getting to do things that will set him on the right education track to one day work for LEGO.  He has said this since he was about 10 years old or maybe even younger.  He has not wavered.  I want this for him.  I really do.  But, in this case, there is no going back.  Unfortunately, I think he might be stuck with entering the Academy in the 10th grade.  This will be a big disappointment for him, but I am sure he will weather it.  But, it means not getting to define his box until 10th grade,  not really getting to do what he would like until then, and not getting to be in this little group of people who will be like himself.  This saddens me, but there is not much we can do.  I have e-mailed some people who might know of an Algebra class to take during the summer that might transfer.  We are going to do all we can...and if the answer is "No", then it is "No".  I am confident that he will become who God wants him to be with or without Engineering in 9th grade.

Here are his other course selections:
Pre-Ap English 9
Pre-Ap Biology 9
History 9 (I thought he should have taken Pre-Ap in this one, too.)
Algebra 1
Latin 1
Theatre 1 (no band - I know he will probably do better in Theatre, but I would like for him to continue in band mainly because it gives the students a strong -and for the most part positive group to identify with - however, back to him "defining his own box")
Alternates:  1. Choir and 2. Art (I thought he should have put Art first, but he put Choir first).  This only makes a difference because when we register by computer, we don't put in alternates, so in this they go by what it on your course selection sheet.  Also, since he has down Engineering as one of his choices, he WILL get an alternate.  

I will be praying before we enter his courses online.  He will be fine.  God is in control, and hopefully he will let Him continue to be in control of his life.  Again, his choice!  My prayers are with him, though.....

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Class Newspaper

My 4th grader came home Thursday night with his own version of a class newspaper.  The idea was his and he was all about finishing it and copying it to hand out Friday to his class.  He had a couple things that were not good for the class, so we edited them out and he added other stuff in.  I am the "box top" lady for my school, so I convinced him to write a "box top" ad for me.  So, he copied it and took it in with the knowledge that he would have to get his teacher's permission to hand it out.  One little girl threw him into a tizzy saying that she could do better and was going to do her own.  Hopefully he is not causing problems in his class, but his teacher will level with me and take care of it.  I was proud of him for his initiative and creativity!  He was so much about getting it done.  As you can see, his forte is comic strips.  He is all the time making these up.   Not sure if you can read it, but here it is:  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Gives Me Hope....

Today was the parent orientation for the high school's Freshman Center that #2 will go to next year.  Hubby went last night - was pretty overwhelmed, I couldn't go with him as someone needed to be home to oversee homework, supper, and bedtime (it was scheduled from 6-9 pm).  Since this is a significant period of time and darling husband didn't come away with any brilliant insights on course selection, I questioned whether I needed to go today or not.  However, to try to find out if #2 even needed to go there (after the struggles he has had this year with bullying, depression, stress), and to uphold the level of commitment that his dad had in going last night, I decided to go this morning.  The meeting was scheduled for 8-11, so I had to skip my ESL volunteering to go.  Long story short, I sat through the long talk with the big group of parents feeling very confused about what he should take:  regular, pre-AP, pre-IB, etc., etc., etc.....and not a little discouraged.  
After the introductory session,  all the parents go into the cafeteria to talk to the teachers and see what each class and academy (they have five different academies - Engineering, Law, Finance, Health Services, and Technology) had to offer.  Background - This school is one grade and is leading into a school with a combined attendance of about 2,400-2,600 students.  So, they offer a lot and it is very confusing.  (And just so you know, I graduated with about 98 other people.)  So as I went from table to table I was asking what I could and trying to get a feel for the expectations.  
When I finished talking to all I could, I happened upon one of the counselors that I knew had worked with my oldest when he went to this school last year.  I don't know her, but I went up, introduced myself as BK's mom.  She lit up and began to tell me how "He is a doll!" and "I love him."  Maybe I will blog more about his legacy later.  But, I believe in getting to the point and telling people what I need, so I began to ask her about bullying at the FC and how they handle it and if it gets better during high school, etc.  So, this counselor was the perfect one for me to talk to because she had been through that with her own child last year!!  It had affected him so greatly that he had to repeat his grade and was moved to a private school.  So, she definitely knew what I was talking about.  And, when I started telling her about how it had affected his motivation to do school and him wanting to give up, she had experienced this first hand.  In addition, she knew exactly what to do about it.  She had lots of ideas, such as him meeting with her after the student tour and her helping him in getting the right teachers who care and want to help kids,  those teachers who look out for their kids and will be like the "mama hen" for those kids who need it.  She also spoke of meeting with him during the summer and helping him to feel that he had an ally at the campus.  She spoke of connecting him with other kids who needed friends.  She will continue the one support that has worked for him this year (having a high school kid come  - a peer helper - to see him once a week).  Bottom line - she gave me HOPE!!!!  Hope that my child can do better next year than this year.  Hope that he can succeed and move on.  Hope that there will be someone looking out for him.  

I feel that this is a direct answer to prayer.  I have prayed for God's wisdom that He show us if we are to continue with him in public school and God has given me hope.  I thank God for this.  Also, God "dumped my mom out of her recliner" (her words) this morning at 5:00 or so and told her to tell us to read this scripture with him.  It is Isaiah 41: 11-13.  I want to weep as I think about how God is using these little things to speak His great and awesome love for us.  I tear up now, thinking of how He is reminding me that HE LOVES ME!  He loves me and He loves my child.  And He will be with him.  If you go on, verse 14 says, "Despised though you are, O Israel, don't be afraid for I will help you.  I am the Lord, your Redeemer.  I am the Holy One of Israel."  GREAT, AWESOME, WONDERFUL, LOVING GOD!!!!!

My Brilliant Son

This is a picture of a political cartoon that #2 drew for his Reading class.  They are studying "media".  The teacher used it as an example of how a political cartoon needs to be witty and enjoyable even for those that don't share your point of view.  But, she told him that he needed to do another one.  Not sure it because she is uncomfortable with him making this point?  

I tried to post the pictures in the order I wanted to post them, but you will see the balloon first and then the whole picture.  Please disregard the handwriting and grammar and see the brilliancy of the point he is trying to make.  

If you can't read it, here is what it says, "Somehow, I don't think this works the same way as the easy button."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

True Story - Not Sure Why I Want to Share This

On the way home from my parents recently, we stopped in a mid-sized town that we used to live in to go to the restroom.  The boys and I went in, each to our own destination.  As usual, the boys headed on out ahead of me to get into the warm comfy car, while I, taking a little bit longer, fiddled around buying a pack of gum or something to keep everyone happy for the next 3-4 hours.  I happened to get behind a young man (probably mid 20s or early 30s) in line.  He was buying a lot of magazines.  As I looked more closely at the stack, I notice that they were the variety that are covered in plastic.  He was dressed in shorts and short sleeves and has a tatoo on his upper arm that the girls behind the counter noticed and asked him what it meant.  It was a scripture reference that he promptly started to recite.  The verse was John 8:36.  Please look it up.  Obviously, he is not free, at least not yet.  Anyway, the bill for his addiction was more than $60.  As he left, I am surprised at the cost, but the ladies tell me that they cost about $10 a piece.  Of course, I am thinking, hoping, that he isn't taking food from his family to feed his addition.   And, of course, when he leaves, the girls burst into laughter at the irony of it.  I was deeply saddened as they begin to share of all the types of people buying these magazines.  They speak of a preacher, leaving his bus in the lot to come in and buy magazines of this variety.  I left praying for this young man, in bondage, not experiencing the freedom that God provides.  I was also shaken.  I have never seen someone buying such a stack of magazines of this sort before.  I know that porn is so much more of a problem than ever before because of the availability of it on the Internet, but it had never been in my line of vision before.  I feel older, somehow, just witnessing this.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Amazing Video, Amazing Man

This video is so amazing that it is hard to put into words what you feel when you watch it.  I won't try.  Just watch it!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Meeting with the Principal

Yesterday, I had #3s IEP meeting.  You just never know who is going to do the job for the "administration" sign-off.  I have had a counselor come a couple of times and fill in for that role. Anyway, the 6th grade principal was there.  When the signing was all over, she asked me if darling daughter had told me about the little "incident" that took place.  I said "no" and began to sweat thinking the worst and wondering why I HADN'T heard about it from daughter.  So, she goes on to say that there was a little incident in class this week and the "charming child that she is" called a little boy a "retard".  Of course, I was mortified, but the principal made me feel so much better by saying that she owned up to it, admitting exactly what she said and tearing up (the principal promptly embraced her) and was very sorry and repentant.  The principal went on to say that she and #3 are "friends" and that she thinks it was not a big deal for her to confront her.  She said that "she doesn't have favorites, but if she did, 'daughter' would be one of them, but she doesn't have favorites".  She also said she told #3 "You don't have a mean bone in your body," meaning that she just blurted it out without thinking and not to be mean, just to be funny.  Well, she might not know my child very well.  She does have at least one mean bone - everyone does - but she is a good kid and wants to do well both academically and with her behavior.  I came away with the feeling that those at this school seek to handle things in the best way possible and that they are "lovin' my child" and she is "lovin' them back".  I was in admiration for the principal and that when she addressed it, it was over!  She stressed that she didn't want #3 to think that she tattled on her and it was a done deal.  I, however, wanted to bring it up to my children if for no other reason than to just say "Please tell me when you have to see the principal".  So, I covered it without much fanfare and told all three younger ones to come to me before I hear from someone else.  They said they would and I don't think it will happen again.  #3 said she just forgot.  Apparently she didn't think it was as big of a deal as I did, and she knows the principal holds her in high regard.  Not a bad thing, considering I want her to see people in authority as someone to respect and, if possible,build a relationship with.  That will only help her later in her life.   Hopefully, there won't be any other "principal" confrontations to address.  

Every other part of the meeting went well and she is only qualified in "written expression".  Again, this seems to be a family trait.  The verbal skills are great, the vocabulary is great, the intelligence is there, but we just don't get it on paper very well.  Overall, she has surpassed my expectations with all A's for her semester grades.  I am very proud of her effort and the results.  She is doing well.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New President

So, I watched the inauguration and ongoing festivities for a good portion of the day today with my friend (also a conservative).  I am thrilled that we have an African-American president.  Seriously!   Everyone in this great country MUST know how much it means to black people everywhere to experience this wonderful moment in history.  I feel their joy, I really do!  I also feel their pride.  I feel their pain at all they have been through to make this happen.  I, too, am proud of him and his poise, intelligence and accomplishments.  I am impressed with his family.  I love that we have someone with new ideas and new proposals.  I did not choose him, but he can surprise me!  However, there is a big concern in my heart.  My biggest fear and pain is that he is adamantly pro-choice (or more correctly named pro-death) and will stop at nothing to see that this cause is furthered from one end of our nation to the other, state to state.  So, today, I grieve.  I grieve because it had to be THIS black president, this man who is so grossly in error about this issue.  You can say what you want about the other issues - I don't particularly like the war, although the results to me are good (at least mostly), I don't like "spreading the wealth around" in the way that it has been proposed, but these issues are not "morality issues" for me.  For me, they are political issues.  For me, the idea of killing or causing babies to die is a morality issue.  I pray for God's hand on our country and an end to this infanticide.  I pray for God to have mercy on us for our errors in allowing this to happen.  And I pray for God's wisdom in knowing what I can do to make a difference.  

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mini Family Reunion

#4 with my cute nephew - some of my favorite moments were seeing them interact with their cousins.  We see each other so little and there is a comfort level that they have with each other.

This photo was towards the beginning of the trip when my preschooler niece wasn't real comfortable with me.  But, I wedged her in-between me and #2 and she was very happy sitting there for a while.
These two are favorites of each other.  #3 and my niece have a quiet understanding of each other.
This picture of me is a picture of me in heaven.  Having my two nieces on my lap and happy with me and each other was sooooo fun.  It brings tears to my eyes thinking of it.  We see each other so little and they are so sweet (not to mention beautiful).  
The Risk marathon that was finally a "draw":

The most beautiful baby in the world (and this picture doesn't do her justice with her curly brown locks, dark blue eyes, perfect mouth and precious dimples - I could go on and on.....):

I am sadly having niece/nephew withdrawal!!  I spent the last few days at my parents' home in the country.  All of my siblings were there except my brother who is halfway around the world.  We didn't do much, just hung out....well the "men" did have a marathon Risk game with my youngest sister playing war consultant to all four of them.  Other than that, we cooked, held babies, watched the kids play and talked.  It was very enjoyable.  There were many times of almost "head-butting" when we couldn't agree on something, but coming away without a complete "episode" was a major miracle.  (I guess it is because there are so many strong-willed people involved.)  We each deferred a little (or a lot) to the others and we all made it through.  

Sunday was a especial trial for me as I wanted to go to the church we grew up in, but my dad had a planned preaching engagement at a small (think tiny), country church near their home.  I was very out of sorts the whole drive to church thinking of fighting my kids in a small church "on display" for everyone to see.  But, the service was enjoyable, the people were friendly, and the kids were fine.  My youngest sister didn't drive in for church, but she came later with "po-boys" for everyone.  That was a real "food" highlight.  We all wanted a small taste of food from our taste memories without going out and wrangling 7 kids.  It was delicious!  We also had king cake (with special fillings) and my sister cooked a really good, all-out meal of baked chicken, veggies, and rice for Saturday night.  

The kids, I have to say, were the highlight, though.  "Little baby" niece is so pleasant (never cries) and easy-going, the big brother is adorable playing with his football and asking to watch the game during Sunday dinner (he's only 2), the preschooler niece is sweet, fun and slowly warming up to everyone more, and even my kids in their teen and pre-teen angst were sweet, charming, mature (at least more so than usual), helpful with the babies and fun!  

We left at 7:00 PM last night, so the drive for my honey was torturous, but he wouldn't let me drive.  We got in at 12:00 AM and went straight to bed.  So now, instead of getting caught up, I am sitting here blogging....I really must go unpack and do some laundry.  The kids go back to school tomorrow and I have a birthday party to plan for Saturday.