Thursday, August 6, 2015

Blessings of a new school year and a thank you to teachers.

I spent yesterday and today taking my 3 boys to their respective schools to meet their teachers, get their schedules, and make sure they can find their way around the schools. (I even went to a school that we aren't registered for, but more about that later.) All in all, things went well. None of them are thrilled about going back to school. Who can blame them? All that work and having to get up early (extra early for my new high schooler), rules and projects, etc. But I know that they are looking forward to seeing friends. And I think they like the challenge of learning, even though they won't really admit it. :) I was pleased today to see, not necessarily their passion for school, but to witness the impact that a single teacher can have on a student, and vice versa. We started the day at the high school, a new place for us. My oldest son will be a high school freshman this year. (Not quite sure how we got here, but at least we made it!) He got his schedule and we found his classes. It wasn't difficult or eventful. Then, we headed over to the middle school. My middle son will be in 7th grade there this year and, obviously, my oldest son just left there. We got his schedule and proceeded to his classes and met his teachers. Again, it was fairly uneventful. The main purpose of today's blog is what happened next. Both (yes, BOTH) of the boys INSISTED that we go see Mrs. Irvine before we leave. Each of them had her for social studies at some point during middle school. And they would each tell you that she is, by far, their favorite middle school teacher. (I, as a mom like hearing that because it means that my kids have engaged another adult and even realize that the teachers are not there to torture them.) So we headed around the school to find her room. We found it in the same place that it was last year, surprisingly, and walked in the door. Mrs. Irvine stopped what she was doing (talking to a family that would be in her class this year), walked right toward us and hugged, really hugged, each of my boys. In talking to them she used the words "favorite" and "enjoyed". It was so refreshing to see that, not only did she have an impact on them, but THEY had an impact on HER. I've tried hard to raise them right and teach them to be good gentlemen and responsible citizens. It's so nice to see that all the hard work and struggle has paid off. THANK YOU, MRS. IRVINE! But it doesn't stop there..... My middle child also asked if we could go by the elementary school. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem. We usually do that anyway for my youngest child and the other boys get to see teachers from their past. However, this year, my youngest had changed schools and is no longer enrolled at the elementary school that they all remember. However, at my son's prodding, we went to a school where I had no vested interest for the year and no child enrolled. Yes, it took up more time. The parking lot was crowded. The building was crowded. It wasn't easy. But again, a teacher had made an impact on my child enough for him to want to return to see her. We walked into the elementary school. All the staff were very helpful. They wanted to give us maps and tell us what we needed to knew. I politely told them that I don't have a child enrolled, we were just there to see people. The first teacher we come across was my oldest son's 4th grade teacher, Ms. Austin. She's great! She engaged him in conversation and even asked if he would be interested in coming after he gets out of school to help her set up science experiments. (The high school is right next door to the elementary school.) Nice! Mrs. Bross, though, was our main target. She was my middle son's 5th grade teacher. He will easily tell you the she is his favorite elementary school teacher. A bit of background may be necessary for that one. 5th grade is the year that he, after many years of tests, was diagnosed with ADD. I informed Mrs. Bross and she immediately knew what to do. She has had experience with that before and knew how to handle it. Did she ever! She single handedly helped Zach gain confidence in his abilities and self esteem. She believed in him and, in turn, helped him believe in himself. She spent the time we were there telling him that she knew middle school was going to be great for him. (He is in all gifted classes.) I thanked her for her large part in who he is now, she rolled her eyes and said a sarcastic please, we both smiled and then we left. THANK YOU TEACHERS FOR WHAT YOU DO! IT DOES MAKE AN IMPACT AND WE PARENTS SEE IT AND APPRECIATE IT. I KNOW YOUR JOB ISN'T EASY, AND IT IS GETTING HARDER BY THE YEAR, BUT WE THANK YOU!!!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Giving it all to God

Last week, I posted a question on Facebook asking people how and when they do their quiet time with God. See, even though I was a pastor's wife for 10 years, I've never been very good at setting aside that time to get closer to Jesus. I've always felt the need. I've always believed that, if I could just get that part of my life right, then everything else would fall into place. It has been true several times over the years. I'm just never able to stick to it. So, last Friday I starting being intentional about getting up early and spending those first few moments of the day with my Savior. Starting my day off in the right frame of mind and getting my priorities straight from the moment I get up. And, of course, as God has promised and shown my many times, it proved beneficial. I've been more joyful over the last few days. (Hopefully my family has noticed. I at least feel it.) The mysteries of life suddenly don't seem so mysterious anymore. God is using that time and the fact that I am now more open to Him and to hear what He has to say to me. And I'm listening.... Friday, the very same day that I started being intentional about my quiet time, I got a call (while walking around Target) from a company that I had sent a resume to a little more than a month earlier. I had completely forgotten about this company and the fact that I had applied for a job. They wanted me to come interview. That afternoon! I was knee deep in toys, popcorn and coke at Target so I told them I couldn't that day. But I was available the following day, Saturday. So we set it up. I went to the interview not expecting much. I spoke with the manager, who was very pleasant, but didn't get a real sense that I would get the job. "I have more interviews and we'll call if we are interested" has never worked well. So I went on about my day. Steven and I took a grocery store date (you take the time that you can with 3 kids!) and spent some of that time talking about the job. As we are walking through the meat department of Kroger, my phone rings. (Keep in mind, no one EVER calls me! I get texts but very few calls.) It was the manager from my job interview. She "really liked" me and wanted to offer me the job. Note, this was only 2 hours after I left my interview. I told her I would think about it and hung up. Steven and I spent the rest of the grocery trip talking about whether or not I should take the job. (I was so into the discussion, that I spent WAY too much on groceries!) We both agreed that the extra hours would be good for our budget and my sense of purpose. So we agreed I would take the job. I find it to be NO coincidence WHATSOEVER that this happened AS SOON AS I started being intentional about my time with God. Like I said before, I knew this was possible. I knew that He could change my life if I would just give Him the time, but I never did. Instead, I would get up and watch Sportscenter first thing in the morning. SC won out over my Savior. (Yes, I'm ashamed to say that out loud. But confession is the beginning of forgiveness, right?) Anyway, I'm back on track now. 6 days in a row! And now I have a new job to look forward to. Nothing glamorous, but I think it will be fun and I'm looking forward to it. Also, in the last 6 days, I've been communicating with the Gwinnett Braves and I will be working at the stadium again on Fridays and Saturdays until the end of the season. This is exactly what I needed. Why did it take me so long to truly give everything over to God? I have no idea. But....better late than never.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Am I ready for high school?

Last night, I took Joshua (JJ), my 14 year old 8th grader, to rising 9th grader night at the local high school.  I was very excited, and a bit nervous, for him to be starting this phase of his life.  But high school can be so rewarding and such a special time with special people.  You learn a lot. You grow a lot.  You become a lot of who God made you to be.

I'm sorry to say that I sit here now understanding no more about high school that I did yesterday.  When I was in high school (many moons ago), it was fairly simple.  You need certain classes to graduate, take some electives, a language, and when you are a senior, if you have achieved, you can take the AP core classes. (There were 4 AP classes.)  Now there are 26 AP classes, pre AP classes, CP classes, pathways, academies.....HUH?????  I want him to learn, prepare for college, and have fun all at the same time.  I don't believe that college level decisions should be put on a 14 year old.  I also don't like the emphasis put on class rank.  I want him doing well for himself, not because he is jockeying for position with his friends or people he doesn't even know.

He's smart.  I want him to succeed, go to college, find what God has for him and live the full, abundant life that Jesus has offered.  It just seems like so much emphasis has been put on outdoing everyone else.  It seems to be a competition.  Which, if you think about it, is quite funny because competition was never allowed when they were younger.  Trophies for everyone!  No keeping score!  Thankfully I believe that Steven and I have raised him, all 3 of our boys, with the right amount of competition and compassion; success and silliness.  Our lifestyle and teachings remain consistent regardless of how the world that surrounds them changes.

In a nutshell, I gave all the written info to JJ and told him to read it, learn and understand it and do what he believes is best.  His teachers from 8th grade will recommend him for certain classes, but I have override authority.  I want him to work hard, but not have to work so hard that he can't enjoy his teenage years.  He brings home a registration sheet next Tuesday.  (Yes! Already for next year!)  We'll just prayerfully go from there.

On a more personal note, my emotional eating has gotten the best of me.  2-3 years ago I lost almost 30 pounds.  It has slowly, but surely, found me again.  From Zach's ADD and first year of middle school to the possibility of Elijah having autism or something similar.....I have gotten out of control.  Starting now (meaning tomorrow morning) I will endeavor to get a hold on my emotional eating.  I pray that God will help me find another way to find comfort, enjoyment, pleasure, or whatever it is I may be looking for at the time.  I'm very disappointed in myself.  I worked so hard to lose the weight only to have it come right back.  Needless to say that my self esteem is not so great right now and that is affecting many other parts of my life.

So, here it goes.  Don't be afraid to ask me how I'm doing.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Double Standards

Well, it has happened again.  I don't think I can let Elijah ride a school bus again.  At least not this year.  I just don't trust them anymore.

I'm not sure if I blogged about it or not but a few months ago, I went to meet the bus as it was dropping the kids off.  Only Elijah didn't get off the bus.  As any mother would, my heart sank and I began to panic.  Come to find out that his bus was overcrowded and so they asked only the kids that live in our neighborhood to get off of their USUAL bus and get on another.  Well, Elijah didn't hear that announcement.  He's on his normal bus so why would he need to get off?  Anyway, the bus driver immediately knew that I was missing my son so she radioed to the other bus and they brought him home.  It scared him as much as it did me.

Steven and I both called and emailed the transportation department for the school.  I was told an announcement was made on the bus....and that was all.  Even though they know exactly what kids ride which bus and they knew exactly what kids they wanted off and if those kids were at school that day, they didn't have a list that they checked and double checked to make sure each student they needed was off the bus.  And my son fell victim to their lack of preparation.  Even then, my problem was the fact that I have to show my ID and fill out all sorts of forms in order to change the way my son gets home from school.  But all they have to do is send some stranger on a bus to make an announcement and that's enough?

Well, now we've had an issue with the bus in the morning.  For the last 2-3 mornings, Elijah and I have been at the bus stop at the same time he's gotten on the bus for the last 3 or 4 years (same time as my older kids too.)  However, the bus hasn't come.  So I take him back home and drive him to school.  Once I saw his bus along the way and just thought it was running late that day.  Our neighbors weren't at the bus stop, but sometimes their plans change and they don't ride the bus so I thought nothing of it.  Well, this morning the bus didn't show up again and it was cold so Elijah didn't want to wait any longer.  I took him home and grabbed the older boys (we go to Starbucks on Friday morning before school) and headed out.  Lo and behold, we see our neighbors at the bus stop 15 minutes later than when we normally catch the bus.  (I had called her to see if she knew what was going on but didn't get an answer.  I had remembered that her husband said something about her having to get them to the bus stop instead of him so he could get to work on time.  But I didn't understand what he meant at the time.)  I stopped to ask her and she told me of a slip of paper that was supposedly handed out to the kids who ride the bus telling them of the change.  Well, I have never heard of or seen such a slip of paper.  And Elijah claims to not know anything about it.  She continues to say it was given out on Friday afternoon.  Well, Elijah doesn't ride the bus in the afternoon because of the first incident.  I then called the school to find out what was going on.  I was told that the bus drivers were in charge of informing parents/students of the change and that slips were supposed to be handed out on Friday afternoon as well as Monday morning.  Again, as far as I know, Elijah received nothing.

So here's my question.....why is it that I have to fill out all sorts of forms to change my son's transportation but all they have to do is hand out a slip of paper?  Also, I get reminder emails about everything that happens at the school.  Too many in some cases.  Why wasn't an email or some other communication done to make sure parents got the information?  I mean, they don't trust the kids to get on the right bus because they attach a tag to their backpacks that states what bus they ride.  They don't trust them with agendas, reading logs and report cards because I have to sign to ensure that they made it home and I've seen them.  So why wasn't more of an effort made to ensure that parents see something as important as a change in when the bus picks up their kids?

I am just beside myself.  I have sent another email to the transportation department telling them that they need to do a better job relaying information.  In the meantime, I no longer trust putting him on the bus.  I never know when they may just decide to change something and just not tell me.

More and more I wonder if public school is the right place for him.......

Thursday, January 29, 2015


First off, let me start by saying that I am SO PROUD of Zach, my 11 year old 6th grader.  At the beginning of the year, his first year in middle school, he came to us and said he wanted to play the cello in the orchestra.  Reluctantly, we agreed.  (He has wanted to do MANY things over the years that we've paid a lot of money for and he ends up being apathetic about them.  But musical training is supposed to help the brain, so......)  I am constantly reminding him to practice and it frustrates me.  However, Tuesday night he had his very first orchestra concert.  AND HE DID GREAT!  I could tell he was nervous.  (He was taking deep breaths in his chair right before.)  But he did it.  It sounded wonderful!  I am hoping that the feeling of the concert will encourage him to practice more.  But I'm not holding my breath.

Decisions by parents are always necessary for their kids.  Right now Steven and I are faced with a medical decision for Elijah.  I keep going back and forth on what I want to do so I'm going to put it out there to see if writing about it helps and also to see if there are other opinions out there as well.

Elijah has SPD, sensory processing disorder.  He's had OT for that and, though he still has issued with certain things, he is better and continues to learn to cope with various things as he matures.  However, all along I have felt that there was something more going on with him.  I brought it up to his pediatrician many times.  "Does SPD affect maturity, intelligence, brain development, etc?"  I kept getting a "I'm not that familiar with SPD" and "probably not".  So I accepted that and we went on about our business.  This year, Elijah is in 3rd grade and really struggling in school.  He failed reading last semester (can't pass a cold reading test) and is now struggling with math as well.  Through many SST meeting with the school and several evaluations by several teachers and the school psychologist, it has been determined that Elijah is "educationally eligible" for speech, language, and......autism services.

He doesn't have trouble with speech; however, he struggles with expressing himself.  He can't answer "why" questions and has trouble organizing his thoughts and getting them out, either verbally or in writing.  The autism one took me a little by surprise, but I had some inkling.  He has some repetitive behaviors that made me think about it, but it was a fleeting thought.  (He rocks, wrings his hands, shakes out his hands when he get nervous or frustrated.  He also has a clothing rotation, right down to his underwear and pj's.  He wears the same clothes every Monday, Tuesday, etc.  He missed school one Tuesday and stayed in his pajamas.  The next day he went to school wearing Tuesday's clothes and changed to Wednesday's clothes when he got home.)

Anyway, my question is whether or not I should take Elijah to a developmental pediatrician or some other specialist to test him to see if he is, in fact, autistic.  The pediatrician was on the fence.  It might be autism, which there is no real test for, or it might be a learning disability (reading comprehension, etc.)  I would be inclined to agree with the latter if it wasn't for the repetitive behaviors.  So this is my dilemma.

Right now I am inclined to NOT have him tested and just see if what the school does for him, whenever that starts, actually helps him.  His only trouble is in school.  He seems fine in everyday life, with the exception of whenever I ask him a thought provoking question.

Any opinions?
I continue to pray that God would show me how to best parents my kids.  I always feel like I'm not doing so well.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Is it ok to be disappointed in/with your kids?

You want the best for your kids, right?  So what happens when they don't measure up to what you KNOW they can do?  Or if they tell you one thing that they want for themselves but their actions tell a completely different story?

I would ask my parents, if I could, if they ever felt this way.  However, they have been dead for 10-14 years now.  I haven't gotten much parenting help from my own parents.  So, maybe I'm asking anyone who reads this or just to get it out to make myself feel better.  I'm not sure which is my primary motive, but here it goes....

My middle son has inattentive ADD.  Not that big a deal, right?  He started on medication sometime last year and has been doing better ever since.  Last semester, he got all As in gifted and accelerated classes in middle school (a transition I truly thought he would struggle with).  I'm so proud of him!  I wake up this morning and was on the computer just checking on some school things and found out that he currently has 3 Cs in his classes.  He has gotten some bad grades and not turned some things in.  When I confronted him about it, he just says "I don't know".  My struggle is that I know he can do it, but he doesn't seem to want to?  Or doesn't care?  And trying to help him by keeping him on track stresses me out.  As he gets older, I try to take a more "hands off" approach to him, but I have read that the first year of middle school (especially with his challenges) isn't the best time.  So, do I stress myself out and spend my time making sure he is doing what he is supposed to be doing (since I know he can) or do I back off and let him do it on his own?  I told him this morning that I am not the type of mom that will catch him every time he falls.  I will let him fail.  I'm just not sure if this is the time to do that.

My oldest son is a baseball player.  That is what he has wanted to do since he was 2 years old.  He's played rec ball and travel ball for the last 10 years.  Next year he will be going to high school.  He wants to play ball for the school, get a scholarship, play in college and get an MLB contract.  I think that's great and he certainly could if he really worked at it.  That's just the problem.  He doesn't really work at it.  He knows almost everything there is to know about the game.  He goes to practice twice a week.  His coach (currently his father) requires his players to do workouts at home as well.  However, he doesn't want to do that.  He would rather look up sports news on his phone or shoot baskets or read.  How can he claim to be so passionate about something but completely put it off?  It's frustrating to me in a few ways; namely that he thinks things will just happen for him without hard work.  (Less importantly the money that I am putting out for him to play when he isn't putting his best effort into it.)

All that said, I love my kids!  I am super proud of each of them and would do anything for them.  I think that is why all this is so heavy on my heart.  I just want what is best for them.  I want them to have what they want and be happy.  I just can't control that.  I guess that is what is most frustrating to me.

In the meantime, I will continue to love them, continue to guide them, continue to pray for them and hope that they learn the necessary life lessons.  I also pray that I will be a good role model for them and practice what I preach.