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.