Follow Me through Email

Saturday, November 24, 2012

...the art of sleeping...

Truth is, I suck at it. On average, I spend 6 out of 7 nights with some type of sleep disturbance. Usually it results in 1-3 hours of being wide awake in the middle of the night.

It is completely possible that my sleep disturbances have something to do with this game we play on a daily basis called "Musical Beds." It works like this... Merrick typically goes to bed in her own bed. Taya and I go to sleep in her bed. And Dave comes to bed later. And the game begins. Dave wakes me up and I go back to my own bed. At some point one or both of the girls usually ends up in our bed. Either they get transported back to their own beds, or Dave gives up and leaves them and goes to sleep in Tayas bed. If one of the girls doesn't make their way in, one of our dogs will squeeze her way in which usually puts me out of my spot, and I end up in Tayas bed again...there are honestly days that I wake up wondering where I am because I typically don't end up where I went to sleep.

Another possibly contributing factor is that I really don't like to be touched while sleeping. I like my space. I will be the spooner, but can't handle being the spoonee. (Side note, spooning a 6 year old feels about the same as spooning and adult). The worst is on the 3 nights a month that Dave is out of town. The girls are allowed to sleep with me. But they both want to sleep next to me. Which means that I get stuck in the middle. And, I'm slightly claustrophobic...

I also struggle with completely letting work go for long enough to sleep stress free. Although I sometimes get through a ton of email from 2-4 am, I'd rather just sleep.

As a mom, I think that subconsciously you are always on alert for your kids to get up, throw up, have a coughing attack, cry out from a nightmare, or come crawling in your bed. Add that to the awareness of noises in your home, and I think that that super-deep and restful sleep that is needed to ever feel completely rested is missing.

All in all, I miss sleep. And I LOVE to sleep. Which is sad. I don't want to sleep my life away, but I do want a good nights sleep.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

...a simple list...

I am thankful for so many things this year...

My healthy husband
My healthy girls
Amazing friends
My parents
My sisters and their families
Dave's family
My warm home
Food to eat
My dogs
My job
My health
Safe transportation
A new church
A simple life

My list is simple, but says it all. Our basic needs are met, and for that I am extremely thankful!

Our Thankful Tree

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

... the 20 year reunion predicament...

I recently was notified that there is an official date with tickets on sale for my 20 year high school reunion. Huh? How in the world has it been 20 years? I mean, I remember when my mom went to HER 20 year reunion. I was 11. I helped her fix her hair. That also happened to be 26 years ago! Holy cow...1993 + 20 = 2013. OMG! It is true. TWENTY YEARS AGO I was a SENIOR in high school!!!

Seriously though, that means I'm old. I almost feel like this milestone sounds worse than turning 40! But, I don't feel old. In my mind I'm still a twenty something who is married with two kids and lives in a big girl house. But I'm not. I'm a pretty darn close to 40 married mom of two who lives in a nice, modest house in the country. Who has a decision to make...

The question is this, to go, or not to go? Twenty years ago, I swore I would never go to a class reunion. Ten years ago, I refused to go. Present day, I am waivering, and I kind of want to go.

High school for me was difficult. Not academically. (Although, had I actually tried, I know I could have done better.)  I guess "socially" would be what I had the difficulty with??? But, I am not sure that it is the best word to describe it.  I had a social circle.  I had boyfriends.  I had haters.  I had bullies. I was a follower.  I wanted to do what everyone else was doing and really had no opinion on what I wanted to do.  I made my decisions based on what everybody else did and not what I thought I should do (which I don't even know if I knew.)  What I was missing was friends...the true long lasting friendship that people have for life.

I was in sports.  Not band.  Not flags.  Not drama.  Not cheerleading.  But sports.  Because that is what my sisters and "friends" did.  I played volleyball for one year and sucked because I couldn't serve overhand.  I played basketball for 2 years and wasn't great.  I was in track and could have been really good, but didn't put forth the effort that I should have.

The best class that I ever took in high school was English IV.  All of my "friends" were taking public speaking, and my parents made me take English IV.  I was able to relate to and grow surface "friendships" with people who weren't necessarily in my social circle.  (Which seems weird for a small town).

I don't know that I was ever without a boyfriend.  Which is dumb.

I was bullied by one of the meanest girls in school.  I had an atypical gait apparently (I guess I was a toe-walker) and was made fun of for it daily.  I was threatened by several girls who were going to beat me up (and I ended up moving down the road from one and as a 30 year old was still afraid of her).  I had horrible rumors spread about me (apparently I was a boyfriend stealer and slept around).

Even after high school, I made the decision to stay at home and commute to college because I didn't want to be away from my boyfriend.  Dumb.

College was blah.  I went through the motions, got my degree, and started working.  (I did make a lifelong friend, but she moved away and we have been friends from afar!)

Work is when my "new" life began.  I made friends.  Real, honest to goodness, lifetime, would do anything for them and they would do anything for me friends.  Friends who accepted me for me.

And then I met my husband.  And then I met my children.  And I continued making friends.  And life is good.

So, the predicament comes as this.  Do I allow myself to go back to "that" life for a night? The one where I was miserable.  The one where I couldn't make a decision for myself if my life depended on it. Back to the people who strung me along but were not willing to invest their heart in me.

The thing is, I have been following and chatting with a lot of the people that I went to high school with on Facebook, and I would like to see some of them.  The reality is, we are all completely different people than we were 20 years ago.

If I go back, I can show these people who I really am.  I have a successful career.  I have an awesome husband.  I have 2 amazing kids.  And I have the best friends in the world that a girl could ask for.

Someone said the other day that going back could be gratifying.  She was talking about the gratifying because you were a bully and now you have done so many drugs that you have no teeth, but look at me who is perfectly normal type.  But I think that going back could be gratifying in the fact that I can walk in a room and hold my head high because I am proud of who I am and don't really care what anyone else in the room thinks about me.  (However, I will probably crash diet and will have to make sure that my gray is completely covered before hand!!!)

In the grand scheme of life, going to my 20 year reunion won't change anything for me.  But going back 20 years would change everything...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

..the more the merrier...

Well, not all together "the more," but add one or two, and some peace you will have.

It is amazing how sometimes a playdate gives you a little bit of peace and quiet.  At least at the age my kids are.  Kids playing with kids (as long as no one is crying) means that kids are busy and occupied and mama can sit for a little while without having to occupy the kids herself.  Yes, there will be a mess to clean up.  But, overall, it's usually worth it.


Friday, November 16, 2012

...crying, it's (un)professional...

In my profession, I often find myself in emotional situations/meetings with parents. Most of the time, I am expecting it and am able to prepare myself mentally. There is a certain circumstance that no matter how much I prepare myself, I struggle. And by struggle, I mean choke up, get teary, or flat out cry in a meeting with a parent. Today, that circumstance came as a surprise.

When I went to work this morning, I did not have any parent meetings planned. I was going to meet with a vendor, catch up on some things I was behind on, and do some observations. My day quickly changed, as it often does, and I ended up having to rearrange my schedule and cover some parent meetings. No big deal.

I got to the school, got settled in and got out my paperwork for the meeting. It was going to be pretty simple. We needed to determine if we should test a little girl for eligibility in the area of health due to her ADHD impacting her education. So, we started going through the educational areas, talked about how she was struggling with attention to task, how her grades were low, and got out her old records only to figure out that she had been tested previously...and not just once. So, I started flipping through her previous evaluation, and felt like I had just been punched in the stomach. I looked at my Psychological Examiner, she looked at me, and said "do you think we need to go ahead and have this conversation?" (She was as blindsided as I was.). My reply, "umm, yeah."

I took approximately 3 whole seconds to compose myself by staring straight down, looked up, and with a quiver in my throat began to explain one of the hardest things that someone in the field of education says to a parent.

I don't recall exactly what I said, or how many times I apologized for the tears that were threatening to spill over my eyelids, or the quiver in my voice, and the pausing in my explanation, but I am sure it went something like this...

"When she was tested the last time, her scores were significantly lower than average. When we are looking for a learning disability, we are looking for a discrepancy between ability and achievement. Her language scores are commensurate with her ability level, and her ability level has remained consistent over the different tests that she has been given. Your daughter scored one point higher than the state criteria for an Intellectual Disability. We need to test her again. But this time we pray that she tests at least one point lower because in order to get the specialized instruction that she needs, we need for her IQ to be in that Intellectually Disabled range. But please understand that this score does not and will not ever define her, it is simply the score that is going to give her the help she needs." And then the mom passed me the box of Kleenex.

The thing is, we are not doctors, and we are not diagnosing illness. I know that in no way, shape or form can this be anywhere nearly as difficult as informing a parent of a terminal or lifelong illness. But I work in the business of sometimes having to tell parents that their children may struggle through life because cognitively they fall in the lowest percentages of functioning. That adaptively, they may need support with daily things. That their dreams of their child becoming a doctor or lawyer or even college graduate could be crushed. There is a whole new myriad of things for them to worry about. And, it's tough. And, I struggle.

Does crying while telling this to parents make me unprofessional? Perhaps. But, it won't stop me. I can't help it. I am a mom and I am human. I am a real person who has the empathy to hurt with a parent and I will continue to do so as this will never get easier.

And today, they thanked me for being real.

Sunday, November 11, 2012's a new (Sun) day...

So, last week, I decided I needed a new church.  This week, I tried a new church.

This is what my critics had to say:

"Mama, this makes my heart happy" and "Mom, I like it already! (upon walking in the door) Can we come back?"

And this is what I have to say:

Wow.  I mean, wow.

We pulled in to the parking lot about 15 minutes before the service was supposed to start.  I sat for a minute mentally preparing myself as I had seen people standing around in the lobby and really didn't want anyone to talk to me.  Our plan was this...walk in, avoid eye contact, use the potty, find a seat, and hope no one noticed us.

Well, that plan was shot as soon as the girls got out of the car and started running to the door to avoid getting rained on.  They were greeted as they walked in by someone I know.  Whew!  We said hello, did the whole, yes, this is our first time, blah, blah and headed to the bathroom.  And I hear this, "MERRICK!"  Ugh.  We are just trying to get to the bathroom people!  We are supposed to be invisible, no one is supposed to see us, we are supposed to go in, decide if we like the church or not, and get the heck out and decide if we are going to go back.  But, nope.  Merrick chatted with her friend, proceeded to the potty where we talked about if Merrick wanted to go to Sunday School with her friend, and off we went.  To sit down.  But, we didn't.  "Hey Merrick! Hey Jodi!"  OK.  We got this.  So we quickly chatted with the parents of her friend (the mom who teaches at Merrick's school and the dad who I used to work with back in the day), and headed (past the COFFEE BAR) into the worship center.

The first thing I noticed was that it was dark.  The stage was lit, but the rest was not.  Which was nice.  We chose a seat in the back row and I was beginning to feel a little more safe.  Loren's parents sat close to us, and then her mom came over and asked if Merrick would like to go to Sunday School.  Merrick said yes, her mom took her and Taya and I settled in.  I did notice that there weren't a ton of people, and the band started playing, and Taya and I began bopping back and forth to the beat.   And all of a sudden, people were flooding in the doors, and the place was full.  The praise band was good, the songs were upbeat, and it was still dark!

So then, the pastor, (who I think was in the high school I taught at back in the day = in my mind he's pretty young) began his sermon.  And do to it still being dark, and him being in the light, my focus was only on him.  (And the four year old to my right who was being perfectly behaved!)  And his message was good.  And I found myself relating.  And, I TOOK NOTES!  Not the cloze note kind.  Real, honest to goodness I need a new journal for next Sunday type of notes!  (Did I mention that he wore blue jeans and tennis shoes and an American Eagle t-shirt??)

The condensed version of what I got from the sermon is this:

  • Go beyond the surface
  • Hard work doesn't always equal getting our way or what we want.
  • Once we are instructed by God, we have a duty to fulfill
  • You have to put something in to get something out
  • If it's going to count, it's going to cost

And here's the thing.  I was writing out all of the verses that went along with the sermon so that I could look back to them later.

And then, he closed the sermon, there was one more worship song, offering in the back on the way out, and I looked at the clock.  50 minutes!!!!  And I loved every minute!

On the way out, I chatted with a couple more people I knew, was thanked for coming by some people I had already talked to, and said I planned to come back next week.  Which I do.  Because, it was just what I was hoping for.  And my kids were happy.  And I was happy.  Which felt great.  :)

Then, this afternoon, I jumped on Amazon and ordered a daily devotional that I have been eyeing up at a new little shop in the Meadows.  

And, the best part is...Dave said he might go with me next week. :) :) :)

It is a new Sunday indeed!

Saturday, November 10, 2012 you see what I see...

And conversely, do I see what you see?

Recently I had a conversation with my favorite "school parent." It's funny sometimes how a simple conversation can really make you self-reflect. And this particular conversation definitely did that for me...

The parent has a son with pretty typical characteristics of Autism. He was found eligible for special education last year and started with pretty minimal services and has needed an increase as curriculum has become more rigorous. We chatted about how his son was doing and how he has really benefitted from small group instruction. He said that his younger self always imagined that he would have sons who played sports and that's how he would be cheering them on. He said with this son, it's a daily cheer and excitement when his son comes home and verbalizes something that happened at school, or verbalizes that he had an interaction with a friend. He even got excited telling me about it, displaying a fist pump and ear to ear smile. He stated that he was amazed how his perspective has changed.

But, there's something else about this parent. He told me that he now recognizes that his oldest son also likely suffers from Aspergers. But, so does he. From the first moment I met him, I knew there was something about him. His speech patterns are not typical, his sense of humor appears to be thought out and approached with care. His thoughts appear to be very processed, as if you can actually see the wheels turning. But, the most important thing about this parent is that he has overcome any social weaknesses that he may have had, and has learned to compensate so well that he is able to represent both himself and his wife amongst a group of educators that I would imagine can be very intimidating for any parent.

When I met this parent, I honestly thought, I wonder if he sees what we see. Does he have any idea that he likely has very high functioning Autism as well? But, my perspective has shifted to to this... I wonder if he sees what we see. A caring and advocating husband who supports his wife who struggles with sitting in those intimidating meetings and listening to others talk about their son, and a caring an advocating parent who cheers on his son for such small accomplishments as talking to a friend. And does he have any idea how he has touched the hearts of and inspired so many of the teachers that work with his son?

Witch brings me to my self-reflection. What do others see in me, and do I see that in myself?

Some of those who are closest to me, (my sisters) have defined me as being both "high-maintenance" and somewhat of a loose cannon. Do I sometimes over-react? Perhaps. Am I high-maintenance emotionally? Absolutely. Overall, do I think those words describe me? Nah. But, they are definitely a piece to my complicated puzzle. (Side note: I love my sisters dearly and I'm pretty sure they love me too!!)

In my work life, I've heard "you are amazing", "you are a bitch" and everything in between. Do I see myself as amazing? ABSOLUTELY! (oops, I forgot the NOT!). I am by no means amazing. Nor am I an expert. I know enough to muddle through, and perhaps enough to make some think I know more than I do. I am passionate about my field, but often shy away from making strong stances unless I feel backed to a wall or feel that someone is completely off base. I have been told I can be intimidating, which cracks me up, because that is definitely not the me I see.

I have often been told, "you are such a good mom." Ha! Perhaps the mom that others see is good, but 24/7, I am far from it. I have parent fails daily. But I love my kids passionately! I love that others see me as a good mom, I just wish I could see that.

In married life, I am far from a perfect wife. I love my husband dearly. He thinks I'm perfect...(ahem)...and he compliments me much. But, I don't see what he sees either.

The me I see is just an average girl. I love deeply, be it family or friends, and I am protective of all of those people. I am super, super sensitive. I sometimes have a hot temper. I can hold grudges, but if I love you, I forgive easily. I am a giver, almost to a fault. I hurt easily. I lack self-confidence. I tend to be naive. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and I am an open book. I am guarded until I trust you, but once you have my trust, you may know more than you want to. I tend to be a follower, and don't have many things that I am passionate about. I love to be spoiled. I have a hard time saying no. And I love my family with all my heart.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

...the booty, it's in the genes...

Yesterday, I made Merrick cry. She's a sensitive soul, so this is not such an uncommon occurrence. When she was younger, this would break my heart, perhaps followed by this, "Oh my gosh, I am a horrible mother, I hurt her feelings and made her cry," and then I would cry. These days, it looks slightly different.  There are times that I feel bad.  But, there are times that sometimes I giggle, and smile, and try to teach her about joking.  (Although, I have been told numerous times, "Moooooom, you know I don't know how to tease!")  That was yesterday.

Merrick had been getting ready for school.  She had started with her panties.  And I heard this:  "Mom, these panties don't fit!"  Thinking that maybe she had grabbed some older panties that perhaps were too small, I asked which ones she had put on.  She showed me, and knowing that she had JUST BEEN WEARING that type of panties, I told her to put them back on, and let me see.  And I said, "OH, hmmm, those sure don't fit do they?"  And apparently my tone gave away the fact that I found it humorous that her booty no longer fit in the panties, because this came next, "Mooooooom, I can't help it!  It's not funny!"  Which might have made me giggle even more.  And then, she ran to her room crying.  I explained that I thought it was cute (which it was!) and that I would pick her some new panties for the day.  So, I did, and we finished getting ready, and off we went.

And, of course, I couldn't let it go.  (I know, I know, BAD mama!!!)  So, thinking she might not be quite so sensitive in the evening, I said, "Hey Merrick, tell Dad what happened this morning."  Well, before she had time, Taya piped in.  "I'll show you what happened, look!!"  And, proceeded to reenact the events from the morning, pulling down her panties enough to show her little crack, which again, sent Merrick to her room, to hide in the corner and cry.

So feeling a little bit bad, I went in, scooped her up, gave her some kisses and met Dave in the hall, where she was covered in kisses.

And then I heard this... "it's OK honey, you get that booty from your mama."

To which I replied, "HUH??? I'm pretty sure that your booty isn't so small either, DAD!!!"

But, here's the truth.  I do have a big booty.  And Dave's isn't so small either.  So, our poor girls will likely have big booties as well.  Cause it's in the genes.

And big booty or not, I hope they are always proud of those genes!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

...musical theater, who knew???

Me.  Deep down, I knew.  I think.

In September, Dave and I had taken the girls to see Lion King.  I had already seen it, but they had not.  In fact, I am the only one of the four of us who had ever even been to the Fox, and the only "theatrical" production that I had ever actually seen was Lion King about 5 years ago.  I remember being moved to tears at that time, and I had vowed to bring my kids back when they were ready.  I said that I didn't care how much it cost (which was a small fortune), because this would be a family experience that we would never forget.  And it was even more amazing than I had thought it would be.  And even Dave loved it.  And the girls thought we were in a castle.  And I cried all the way through the opening and closing scenes.  And I fell a little bit in love with musical theatre.

They were super impressed by the fanciness of the basement.  

So, last week, I had an impromptu trip to the Fox Theatre to see Les Miz.  I had really been wanting to go for a while.  Although, I have to say I knew very little about it.  Well, let me tell you, I was extremely moved by the entire thing!  From the way that Fantine sacrificed herself for her daughter, to Eponine's love for Marius, and the complete evolution of Valjean...amazing!  I loved the story, loved the music, loved that the ENTIRE thing was sung, just loved the whole experience.  In the past week, I have listened to the entirety of the sound track all the way through once, while literally visioning the entire thing in my head again, and listened to a few of my favorite songs over and over and over again.

Me and my girls from the 'hood.
Which has left me to do a lot of reflecting about theater, and what it means to me...

I would say that a part of me has always secretly wanted to be an actress.  I think to be an actress though, you must have a lot of confidence.  Which I do not.  I would say that growing up, I was a follower.  And the group I followed were not in to theater.  So I kind of missed the boat on that one.  And how do you get in to theatre if you never pursued it earlier in life?  Who knows, but even if I did know, I still lack the confidence to do it, so, I continue to dream.  And I have recently wondered and started researching how to get my oh so shy daughter in to musical theater.  She loves to sing, she loves to dance, she loves to perform...but for us.  I honestly can not see her doing it for anyone but us.  But, I so much want her to.  I want to be able to live vicariously through her.  And I know that is wrong.  I should want her to pursue her own interests.  But, if I had a choice... :)

So, instead of pursuing a silly dream of my own, I have decided to give in to my desires to see more productions.  And my hubby has decided that he will support me.  :)  In December, I will see Wicked.  In February, I will see Book of Mormon.  And in April I will see Million Dollar Quartet.  And this summer, I just may see Les Miz again!!!  And I couldn't be happier about this new phase of my life.  The new phase that pretends that I am a sophisticated theater connoisseur and not a midwest country girl!!!