Monday, March 3, 2014

Seven Years Old Today...

My baby boy is seven years old today!  Seven!  It seems like just yesterday he was turning 1, and now he's a first grader reading chapter books by himself and losing teeth left and right.  Where has the time gone?  If I could slow time down, I would.  It seems like every day he wakes up taller.  The jeans we bought him at the start of the school year were too short before we hit Christmas.  He has a "real" Bible now and wants to read out of that one at bedtime instead of his Children's Bible.  He is super crafty and loves to create on paper or with legos.   Who knows he may be an artist or an engineer with how his mind works!

One of my favorite times with him is at bedtime.  He still likes to snuggle, so I get to lay down next to him and that's when he tells me about his day.  That's when he told me how he got teased by some girls in his class because he said he liked Snow White.  He told me he learned that day that boys aren't supposed to like princesses or they get teased.  That broke my heart to hear him say, but what got me even more was when he told me that it happened at the beginning of the school year and he didn't tell me because he didn't want me to get upset, so he waited until now to tell me.  Why do kids have to be so mean at such a young age?  I, of course, told him that it was okay for boys to like princesses and we would never tease him for that (and in my head I wanted to go all momma bear all over those girls for hurting my son).

I love that he is gentle and caring and loving.  I love that when he hears about people or animals in need his first desire is to give up his own possessions and allowance.  Last year when the tornadoes hit just south of us, he and his sister donated many of their toys to the kids who lost everything and I found Noah in his room taping money to those same toys so that the kids could use the money to buy food and clothing (then Buster came into his room and ate the money off of the toys- no joke).  His school just collected money for families who need food and Noah gave all of his allowance he had been saving up, which Ryan and I then matched, because he didn't want any little kids to go hungry.  He has a good heart and my hope is for him to stay that way.

Happy Birthday, my Ray of Sunshine!  I love you to the moon and back!


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Broken...

Last night I received a phone call from a friend that I have known for 12 years.  Most recently life has been unfair to this person, and I can definitely testify to that as I have watched from the sidelines as people have destroyed his reputation.  Before you ask, yes, I did step up and stand up for him as did his other friends, but to no avail.  This man is broken, and as I spoke to him last night on the phone while he cried and thanked me for standing by him and his family, my heart broke for him and I also cried with him.  Today many of us are meeting up with him to say goodbye to him, and if you are reading this, I just ask that you pray for my friend and his family.  He is a broken man and did not deserve this.  My hope is that God has something much better in store for him.

**********************Update ************************
If you prayed today, thank you.  It was bittersweet saying goodbye.  Tears were shed all around.  His wife and daughter were grateful that we showed up to say goodbye and help him pack.  As we packed, we were able to remember the good times that we shared and found things left by students current and past that brought back good thoughts.  God is good.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Ragged Edge...

I have reached the ragged edge.  Since Friday, I have crammed a semesters worth of Physics into my brain.  I have taken over 20 pages of notes. Worked numerous physics problems.  Hauled physics books back and forth to my duty and back and forth to work and home.  I have studied a ridiculous amount of time.  I have completed the final exam study guide.  I have gone to two real teachers and said, "explain this so I can understand it" too many times to count.  I am exhausted.  I can barely think at this point.  Tomorrow I will walk into a physics class and begin to review a semesters worth of material that I struggle to understand myself.  I think I now have a decent grasp of it, but my confidence is shaky at best.  I don't even know if anyone reads this, but if you do, send up a prayer for me over the next several days that I can convey the material correctly to these kids.  They deserve that.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

I Know Kung Fu...

If you haven't seen the movie, The Matrix, this clip probably doesn't make sense to you (honestly I didn't understand any of the movies in this trilogy, but Ryan LOVES them).  Basically they are downloading all sorts of skills and training into Keanu Reeves' character in the movie.

Right now, I wish this was how I learned.  I had a brain injury just over 10 years ago.  Most people don't notice it now, because I have learned many ways to compensate for it (although crowds of people still make my skin crawl and I get agitated so if you notice me with a book in my hand or my kindle, it's a coping mechanism to keep me from freaking out).

I was reminded of it recently, however.  Over the next 2 weeks, several of my friends at work and I will be teaching Physics for the remainder of the semester during our plan periods (I'm not going to go into the reason why, but if you are curious or want my opinion be prepared).  The majority of us are not familiar with Physics.  I taught Matter & Energy for several years at the start of my teaching career, which I will call physics "lite".  This is way out of my comfort zone, and learning new things does not come easy to me post-brain injury.

I went to my good friend who teaches Physics and asked her for a book that would be understandable for people like me.  She has known me from the beginning so she knew exactly what I was asking for.  I have spent the past stress filled days, frantically taking notes and working problem after problem hoping that somehow this Physics would stick in my brain (because I have short term memory loss, it makes it a bit more complicated to transfer information from my short term memory to my long term memory).  Let's just say, I'm wishing I could just plug the back of my head into a computer and have it all downloaded.  I am sure that is how my other non-Physics friends are also feeling at this moment too, so if you're reading this, send up a prayer for us to get through the next 2 weeks and be able to help these students.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Angels Come In All Shapes & Sizes...

For about the last week and a half, Juliana has been going through a difficult phase.  I'm not sure what brought it on, and I can't wait for it to finish.  She has begun throwing her tantrums and screaming for no apparent reason again.  It's like her senses go on overload and she doesn't know how to process it and the only alternative left is for her to scream.

It started last Monday.  She didn't want to go to swim lessons, which was weird.  She's been so proud of herself ever since she moved to lessons "without momma", but on Monday she didn't want to go.  We got to the Y, and Noah got ready for his lessons.  Then, without reason, Juli began to scream in the locker room- I hadn't even asked her to start getting changed.  I was getting looks from other people in the locker room as she just stood there and screamed and screamed.  I got her calmed down a little bit, and talked her into putting on her swim suit.  Then she started to scream again.  I calmed her down again and talked her into just sitting on the bench with me while Noah swam.  She sat next to me on the bench and screamed (honestly, I just wanted to put her bubble on and put her in the water, but her instructor was a sub this week and was like 17 years old and he had a terrified look on his face of being trapped with a screamer).  After 15 minutes she stopped screaming.  She was still sitting next to me on the bench, but she was quiet (thank God, because I had a migraine).

Then, a different instructor approached me.  Her name is Kenya and she had the more advanced swimmers.  She asked me if she could try with Juli.  I said, "sure".  She sat next to Juli and we talked.  I told her that Juli isn't afraid of the water.  I explained that sometimes she goes on sensory overload and doesn't know how to process except by screaming.  She told me one of her sons was the same way.  Somehow she talked Juli, even though she was crying, into the water and into the last 15 minutes of her swim lesson.  Juli cried for about 3 more minutes, and then Kenya had her swimming all over the pool.  She even convinced her to jump in.  Juli made it through her swim lesson and I thanked Kenya profusely for everything she did for Juli.  Not a lot of people understand what it's like to have a child like Juliana.  When people see a kid screaming like she does, most people cast immediate judgement that they are a spoiled brat and that is why they are tantruming.  I can assure you that I do not spoil my children, but I have experienced the judgemental look plenty of times.

On Tuesday I picked Juli up from the sitter and we went home.  I got out her speech folder to do our nightly speech homework, but before I could even get us started, she began to scream.  I don't even know why.  She screamed the entire 30 minutes before we left to pick Noah up from school.  She continued to scream the entire walk to Noah's school (that was a fun walk, let me tell you) and she screamed the entire walk back home. 

Wednesday & Thursday pretty much started the same way.  Once we got Juli out of bed, she began to scream until we dropped her off at the baby sitter.  This made for very stressful mornings for all of us, because you can barely hear yourself think when she is screaming so communicating to the other people in your family is difficult as well.  I picked her up from the sitter on Thursday, Halloween.  She was good.  We picked up Noah from school.  She was still good.  I got them changed into their Halloween costumes for trick-or-treating.  Still going well.  We left to go trick-or-treating.  We had been out for almost an hour, and Juli had only had one small episode of screaming and after Noah had told her that she was ruining it for him she had stopped. 

We were getting close to our house, and Juli tripped and fell on the sidewalk and landed at the feet of a hispanic man (he turned out to be the dad of a girl in Noah's class).  He picked her up and brushed her off and the 2 of us checked her out to make sure she was okay.  She had a small cut on her hand and that was it.  She cried a little bit, but was okay, so we decided to hit a few houses on the way home.  All of a sudden Juli began to scream.  I ran up to her, thinking I had missed something when she had fallen, and her hand was covered in blood and her sleeve was soaked in blood.  The dad ran back to see why she was screaming as well, and he helped me search her arm and hand looking for the source of the blood.  Neither of us could find anything except the very tiny cut on her hand.  I ran her home, Ryan could hear us and as soon as he saw all the blood, he grabbed Juli and ran her to the sink.  Once we got her hand and arm cleaned off, all we saw was the tiny cut on her hand, and a splinter.  Apparently that was the source of ALL that blood- we had to soak her shirt and wash it multiple times to get the blood stains out.

Juli continued to scream after we finished cleaning her up.  I figured since she was already screaming, I may as well take the opportunity to remove the splinter.  That was a poor decision on my part, as Juli refused to let me near her.  She screamed like someone was killing her and kicked the wall over and over again, in between hitting and kicking me.  I gave up before I snapped and left her screaming upstairs as trick or treater after trick or treater coming to our house looked at us with huge eyes.  She continued to scream upstairs all by herself for another 20 minutes and then came downstairs.  Ryan was able to get the splinter out of her hand, but that also resulted in another bout of screaming.  By the end of the night, I was emotionally drained from the screaming from the week, and I was in the middle of a bad migraine cycle.

By the time it was the weekend, I was exhausted emotionally and physically from my migraine as well as from all the screaming that had been done by my daughter.  I was also thankful for the 2 angels who helped me this week: Kenya at the Y and the dad who was out with his kids trick or treating.  Instead of judging me or my child, they accepted her and her issues and helped us.  I will be forever grateful for that.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Forgiveness...

It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…

Forgiveness
-Matthew West
 
I sat in the parking lot not wanting to walk into the building.  I thought I had gotten over what had happened to me just 3 months earlier by a couple of people, but in reality I had just pushed it away instead of dealing with it.
 
"Do you want me to come out and walk back inside with you?" one of my friends texted me.  I just sat with my phone in my hand, deciding what to text back.  What I really wanted to do was drive back home.  Then, "Forgiveness" came on the radio.  I closed my eyes and listened to the whole song, said a prayer, texted back, "No, I'm on my way" and walked into the building.
 
I have been a fan of Matthew West's for a while, and I knew most of his song's had stories behind them.  So when I got home that day, I looked up the story on YouTube.
 
Here it is: 
 
So after listening to that, how could I not start on my own journey of forgiveness?  Especially as I am not blameles myself and God forgives me.  It's not going to be easy, but I'm working on it.
 
 
It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness
-Matthew West



Monday, September 2, 2013

An Ode To My Night Guard...

I know, that's an odd title, isn't it?  Just go with me on this one.

 About 8 or 9 years ago, my dentist noticed that my teeth were wearing funny and asked me if I ground my teeth at night.  I didn't know, I was asleep, but Ryan confirmed that he had heard my teeth grinding in the night.  The dentist recommended I get a night guard.  At the time we didn't have children, and we didn't see children in our future, so we invested in a night guard from the dentist's office (they are expensive!). 

I wore it faithfully, bringing it with me when we went on vacation, spent the weekend at my parents' house, even when I delivered both my kids.  I found I couldn't sleep if I didn't have it, and if I didn't have it and did manage to fall asleep, I woke up with a bad headache and jaw pain in the morning.

Every Saturday, Ryan cleans the bathrooms.  On this particular Saturday, the case to my night guard was still open (because I hadn't brushed my teeth or night guard yet, I was getting dressed at this time), and all of a sudden I heard, "Uh oh."  Ryan had doused my night guard with a ton of Comet, and when I say a ton of Comet, I mean a ton of Comet.  It had slipped out of his hands and emptied right into my night guard case.  Feeling horrible, my wonderful husband told me he would take care of fixing it so that I could go run the errands that needed to be done.  Later, I discovered that he had run it through the dishwasher, to make sure all the Comet was gone.  This was very sweet of him, but he had forgotten, even with his chemist background, what can happen to polymers when they get heated.  When I went to put it in my mouth, it no longer fit.  It was warped.  We tried reheating it to fix it, but nothing worked.

In desperation, I drove to Wal-Mart and Target searching for a night guard that I could use.  I found one and it worked for about a week.  Then, I started waking up in the middle of the night, choking on pieces of plastic.  I was grinding my way through the plastic mold.  My dad gave me the kit that he had bought but never opened.  It was made for people 5'9" and over (I am not even close to that height).  When I tried to put the mold in my mouth, it was way too big and I couldn't even close my mouth, so apparently when they put a height requirement on certain things, they really mean it.

I started looking on Amazon for night guards, and I found one made by Sporting Smiles.  It had pretty good reviews and was actually made in a dental lab.  They mail you the materials and you make a mold of your mouth and mail it back.  So, I went to their website to check them out.  They were cheaper through their website than through Amazon, and had free shipping.  So, I bit the bullet and ordered one, upgrading to the heavy grinder material, for $5 more, but still less than $100 and much less than the dentist had cost. 

The materials arrived, and I mixed them together and put the mold in my mouth.  The only downside is sitting with it in your mouth for 5 minutes.  Then, I popped it out, filled out the paperwork, put it in the envelope and put the prepaid shipping label on it.  2 weeks later, my new night guard arrived.  I took it out and examined it.  It was MUCH less bulky than the one from the dentist's office.  It was also slightly flexible.  It kind of looks like those invisalign braces people wear.  I have had it for about a month now, and I have to say it is holding up extremely well.  There is no evidence of wear and tear on it and it fits perfectly.  So, if your dentist ever says you need a night guard, I would highly recommend this place.  They did quality work and I paid SIGNIFICANTLY less than I did the first time around.

And that is why this is called an ode to my night guard.