Thursday, March 26, 2015

Birthday Blessings...

So, today is my birthday.  Normally, I don't think much about it.  It's just a day, to be honest.  This year, Ryan had to be out of town on my birthday, and I don't know why, but it bothered me a bit.  Maybe it was because Noah and Juli have been fighting A LOT lately, or maybe it was because we aren't on spring break like usual.  Something was bothering me all week, and I just kept praying that it would go away and I would have a good day on the 26th.  Well... I did (minus some school chaos), which tells you God is good.

My morning started out with waking the kids up at 6 AM.  Both of them got out of bed and they were happy.  Unbelievable.  There were no tears or yelling from either of them!  We got downstairs to breakfast in record time.  They even took care of their breakfast dishes while I ran upstairs to start a load of laundry.  Un-heard-of.

I walked into my classroom to a: "Surprise! Happy Birthday!"  Two students who had graduated last year had come in and decorated my classroom!  Not only that, but they had made me cupcakes, bought me flowers, balloons, a birthday crown, & a gift card to Jamba Juice!  Plus, they made me scream, because they scared the living daylights out of me (it was a good thing I didn't need to pee).  Then, they stayed and helped a co-worker and me set up our egg lab for the day.
Not only was the frosting different colors, but the girls had dyed the cupcake batter different colors too!
Aren't my flowers BEAUTIFUL?!?
The 2 culprits: Audrey & Maria
During 2nd period, a student I had the year before came in to give me a package of Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs and Peanut Butter Oreo Cookies.  My 3rd period class conspired to throw me a birthday party!  My amazing TA baked 3 different delicious treats (they were so yummy), and students showered me with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Reese's Pieces, Gum, & Lotion- they know me all too well.  6th period the Easter Bunny (no joke) hopped into my room and wished me a "Happy Birthday" and gave me an Easter Egg.  Then she hopped back out and went back to visit the preschoolers.  Throughout the day, students added to the birthday notes on my whiteboard.  I have never felt so loved.
The delicious treats made by Judy, my TA (ignore the eggs, those were for the lab)
Part of the party by my 3rd period class
After school, when I picked up both kids, normally we go through the "hangry" phase where they both need a snack ASAP because the fighting commences as soon as they see each other (due to being hungry), but we skipped that phase.  They still had their snack, but there was no fighting, no ugliness.  We ran errands and talked about our days at school and got along.
My board at the end of the school day- I am truly blessed
God is good, and I was truly blessed today.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Sunshine Turns 8 Today...

My Ray of Sunshine turns 8 today.  It is hard to believe that it has been 8 years since he was born.  Since Noah is 8, I have compiled a list of 8 things I think you should know about Noah.

1) He always has a smile on his face, which is why we call him a "ray of sunshine".  Since he was baby, it is rare to see him without a smile.

2) Noah loves his little sister, Juliana, so very much.  He would do anything for her.  Last year when we were walking home from school, Noah and Juli were walking ahead of me and I noticed Noah yelling at some girls.  When I caught up, Noah told me that 2 girls had been making fun of the braces that Juli wore on her ankles.  The momma bear in me got angry, but Noah told me, "don't worry, Mom, I took care of it".

3)  Noah loves his cousins.  He looks forward to the times he gets to play with them, especially Rori and Liam.  We wish they lived closer so we could see them more often- that means you too, Candise!

4) He loves to listen to music and sing (he is going to be very sad when he realizes that he gets his singing talent from me).  When he is in the shower, you can always be treated to a song he has sung in church or school, or a song we listen to at home.  Right now you can usually hear him singing: "Soul on Fire" by Third Day, "Live Like That" by Sidewalk Prophets, and "Our God" by Chris Tomlin.

5) He loves to build.  Noah can build anything out of Legos, Duplos, K'Nex or anything you give him.  He says he wants to be a Dolphin Trainer when he grows up, but I honestly see some type of engineer in his future.  This year it was Noah's turn to have a birthday party (every other year we have enough money for each kid to have a non-family party- we started when Noah was 5 & Juli had her first party last year) and he wanted to use the money instead to go to the Lego Store in Chicago and buy Legos.  So this coming weekend, we are headed downtown to get him some more Legos.

6) The kid loves to read.  His backpack always has at least 2 books in it to read at day care and at school.  He likes to read funny books, so he enjoys: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, How To Train Your Dragon, The Adventures of Frankie Pickle, the Lunch Lady series.  I love the Plainfield Library, because all I had to do was tell the librarian that he liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate and she loaded Noah up with all these new authors for him to try and then told him to come back and tell her which ones he liked best so she could help him find even more.

7) Noah loves his grandparents, both sets, and doesn't get to see them enough (guilt trip accomplished).  In Noah's ideal world, both sets of grandparents would live next door so that he could see them all the time.  Unfortunately, one set lives about 2 hours away and the other set lives in Arizona, but he has learned to treasure the time he has with them. (The grandpas are hard to find in pictures with Noah because he is usually doing something active with them at the time).

8) Noah is all about family time.  He loves to do family movie night or family game night.  His current favorite game is King of Tokyo (the struggle is real) and he is ruthless when he plays it, and if he had his way (and Juli did too) we would play it every night.

Happy birthday, Sunshine!  I can't wait to see what this next year brings us!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

IEP, MRI, Developmental Pediatrician...Oh My!

Last week was a busy week for us.  Tuesday came with a half day for me and then I met Ryan at Juli's school for her IEP meeting.  It had been 3 years since her last meeting to start her in preschool (I still can't believe she's going to be 6!), so this meeting was her 3 year re-eval, complete with all sorts of testing that was done.  We were there for just over an hour and a half.  On the good news front, Juli was dismissed from Physical Therapy- she mastered jumping on one leg with both her dominant and non-dominant leg and that pretty much booted her from PT.  She will be continuing on with OT and Speech, as her fine motor skills are lacking and she continues to need help in speech.  They also added on to her resource time and she will now be pulled out for reading as well, and not just for math.  I was relieved they were adding the reading onto that, as she struggles quite a bit with her word wall words.  They also kept her diagnosis as developmental delay instead of going with learning disability as this will allow her to get the most help possible for right now, and we were okay with that.

Thursday, all 4 of us had to get up super early, because it was MRI day and we had to be at Lurie's Childrens Hospital (formerly known as Children's Memorial)  by 7 AM.  I felt badly Noah was missing a day of school, but our day care doesn't open until 6:30 and we were on the road by 5:45 (good thing, because we didn't arrive until 7:05 due to traffic).  The new hospital is really nice compared to the old Children's we used to go to when Juli was much smaller.  When we checked Juli in, the lady behind the reception desk immediately produced 2 big bags for both kids, containing coloring pages and crayola crayons.  Both kids sat down at one of the kid tables and started coloring.  When Juli got called back, all of us got to go back with her, where we put her in her gown and answered a bunch of questions.  Then, one of the nurses showed her how to work the remote to the television and helped her select the movie of her choice from the movie channel- Frozen, of course.  Just as we got to the "Let it Go" scene, they came and had us move back to the next room where we met the anesthesiologist, a young man who Juli instantly bonded with (before that she had been pretty glued to me).  He asked her what flavor of gas she wanted, and she chose bubble gum.  Then he asked her how many candles were going to be on her next birthday cake- she said 100.  He told her that she looked good for almost 100 years old, and Juli replied, "well, I'm really only going to be 6".  Then he asked her if she was ready, she said, "yes", jumped off the table and didn't look back at us.  He held out his hand and she grabbed onto it.  Just like that she was gone.
Up at the "buttcrack" of dawn
Coloring in the waiting room
The 3 of us returned to the waiting room until they called me back to the recovery room.  Just like the last time she came out of anesthesia, she was screaming- it broke my heart.  This time she was a bit more violent and was thrashing about in the bed while she screamed.  The nurse let me climb into the bed with her and I held her while she screamed and hit and kicked me.  Eventually she calmed down and they let Ryan and Noah come back.  Then we got her dressed and Ryan carried her out of the hospital.  Since she wasn't allowed to eat since dinner the night before, we let her pick lunch.  She chose Portillo's because she wanted a milkshake and french fries.  When we got home she took a 3 hour nap.

Watching Frozen
All done for the day
On Monday, we had a snow day, which was nice, because I was going to have to take another half day to take Juli to see her Developmental Pediatrician at the Children's clinic at Central DuPage Hospital.  The roads were awful, so the drive was not fun.  Her doctor is a very nice lady and she looked over all of the test results from Juli's IEP meeting, along with all of the papers we had filled out prior to the appointment (we had seen her several years ago, so some things have changed developmentally for Juli since then) and she spent over an hour with the 2 of us.  Some positive things came out of the visit- she agreed with me that the OT that Juli is getting through school is not enough and gave us a prescription for private therapy and she is sending us for some testing to try to answer some of her questions before she can fully determine what is going on with Juli developmentally.

It is a bit overwhelming to be back in this boat again after having 2 years of relative calm, but we want to do everything in our power to make sure that Juli can be successful not just in school, but in everything that she does.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Birthday, Ryan...

Happy birthday to my wonderful husband!  A man who sets the example of how to follow Jesus. A man with a servant's heart.  A man who loves his children unconditionally.  A man who always gives 100% in whatever he is asked to do.  A man who stole my heart when I was 20 years old.  A man who puts up with all of my quirks and loves me anyway.  Happy Birthday, Ryan, we love you so much!

Monday, December 8, 2014

A New Season...

It has been a while since I posted.  I honestly haven't felt like writing and have withdrawn into myself for comfort and solitude.  Things had been going well, barely any bumps in the road, and then school started...  My punkin horsie is having a rough go of it this year in Kindergarten.  About a month into school she began to meltdown at bedtime, sobbing hysterically that she didn't want to go to school.  She has figured out that she is behind her classmates.  Ryan and I would take turns holding her, as she buried her head into our chests and sobbed, sometimes for an hour or more.  It broke my heart..

I emailed her teacher, case manager, and therapists immediately when this began and all were quick to support her.  Her teacher put together a special bag with a chalkboard, markers, and a letter writing practice book for us to use at home.  She was excited to practice her writing, we stick with markers over pencil right now as she can write better with those, and we bought her a set to use at school where her teacher allows her to use them instead of pencils.  Things seemed to be improving and she stopped crying at bedtime.  Then, we hit October.

In October, she began to have accidents at school.  I had her checked for UTI's twice, and she was negative.  At home, all of her bodily functions were working, but at school we thought she was just getting distracted and forgetting to pee.  I should change that, we THOUGHT she was getting distracted, until the day when she had 3 accidents in less than 1 hour and Ryan had to go to school and get her.  A doctor's visit and an x-ray showed that her intestines were full and when the doctor tried to listen for movement, he heard nothing.  So began the path we are currently on to avoid having any type of surgery.  A path paved with suppositories, Miralax, Mineral Oil, and Senna.  We were reunited with Dr. Fishbein at Children's, who was pleased to see us again, until he heard why we were there.

In November, I went to Parent-Teacher conferences, and I almost wish I hadn't.  It's hard to sit there and keep from crying when you are bombarded with everything you already know to be true.  Yes, I know she is behind in Math.  Yes, I know she struggles to write her letters and numbers.  Yes, I know she struggles with counting.  And the list goes on...until I got to speech and that was the shining moment of the day- she is excelling at her speech goals :-)  When I left her conference and prepared to go back to school to begin my own parent-teacher conferences, I cried the entire way back to school as well as in the privacy of my classroom.

Yes, my punkin horsie is having a tough time in Kindergarten this year.  Every day after work we have a schedule of what we need to work on.  We are extremely blessed with the new daycare that we found, as Miss Nora works with Juli after she gets off the bus from Kindergarten.  She has made her lots of reusable letter sheets for her to trace and practice writing her letters on, and with Miss Nora's help, her writing is getting better.

What I so wish for people to see with my little girl is that while she may be behind in many areas, she does excel at others.  She can sing most of the words to: Thrive by Casting Crowns, God's Not Dead by the Newsboys, Kings & Queens by Audio Adrenaline, & You Are by Colton Dixon.  She has a wonderful imagination and one of our favorite things to do at night is to play "Big Sully/Little Sully" with her stuffed Sully animals.  One thing I have learned from being Juli's mom is that every season will eventually end.  Our last rough season ended eventually, and I know that this season will end eventually as well.

Romans 5:3-5 "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

And now for some cuteness...


Saturday, August 16, 2014


I walked back into my classroom this week expecting to see the posters, drawings, and pictures I had accumulated over my years of teaching still hanging on the bulletin boards that I had left up at the end of the school year.  We had been told we didn't need to take anything down off our bulletin boards, as they wouldn't be painting the walls this summer.  That was what I expected to see.  What I saw when I walked in, was nothing.  Everything was gone.  My bulletin boards were bare, pictures gone.  Posters, gone.  Not going to lie, I said a few choice inappropriate words.  A friend and I searched my room, going through every drawer and cabinet, thinking that whomever had done this had maybe left everything in a pile somewhere else.  After an hour of searching, I told her we should stop.  My stuff was gone.

Stuff can be replaced, I know that.  What hurt me was that some of those pictures had been drawn by some talented students who have long graduated from South.  The picture that made me cry and was like a stab to my heart when I realized it was gone, was the picture of my Chili Dawg, from when he had made the Tripawds calendar the January after he had crossed the rainbow bridge.

I know nothing can be done to get my stuff back.  It's gone.  I asked the head custodian if he knew anything about it, and he asked his staff, the answer was no.  I sent an email to my boss letting him know my stuff was taken, because I was too emotional to discuss it in person. The principal knows, he walked in when we were discussing it.  He feels bad for me, but again, there's nothing that can be done.

I feel violated.  Why would someone do that to me?  I won't ever know.  Stuff can always be replaced.  At least I have the memories still.  So now I move forward, gathering new posters and pictures, and re-decorating my very sterile classroom.  What a way to start the new school year.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sometimes All It Takes Is Kindness...

We were about halfway through our third flight on our way to Hawaii, when the crying began.  I was kiddie corner from the mom and I watched as she tried to soothe her young son.  Nothing was working and she was getting frustrated.  Her husband came up from a few rows back, grabbed the boy by the arm and said something to him, I don't know what, but it made him cry even harder when he left.

I have been that mom many times, not just on land, but also in the air.  I remember holding Juli on the airplane while she screamed, because the flight attendant made me wake her up and buckle her in her seat due to turbulence.  The consequence of that action?  A screaming 2 year old for the remaining 2 hours of the flight.  I wracked my brain for a way to help this mom, who was desperate to stop her son from screaming on the plane.

This was the first time Ryan and I had vacationed childless, so none of my "go-to's" were in my backpack.  I had left my tablet at home for the kids to play on if needed.  I didn't have any children's books, coloring books/crayons, play-doh, suckers, etc in my backpack.  I just had boring old grown up stuff, and then something prodded my brain, "you have your iPod and there are movies on it" (the in flight movie was not a kids movie, and honestly it sucked).  I pulled out my iPod, and scrolled through the movies, hoping there was one on it that wasn't scary for a little boy, and I found one.  "Thanks, God" I whispered, as I tapped the mom on her shoulder.

"I know you don't know me, but I have been in your place before; trapped on an airplane with a child who is melting down.  I was wondering if your son would like to watch a movie on my iPod".  The woman looked at me and burst into tears, "That is the nicest thing anyone has done for me today!"  I crouched down in the aisle, so I could be face to face with her son, "Hey buddy, do you like movies with aliens?  I have a movie on my iPod that we could plug your ninja turtle headphones into and you could watch.  What do you think?"  The boy got quiet and looked at me.  I handed my iPod to his mom and pointed to where I was sitting, I squeezed her shoulder and went back to my seat.  I watched the little boy climb into his mom's lap and put his head on her chest.  30 minutes later, she handed me back the iPod with a thank you and said he had fallen asleep.

I know I've written this before, but I will continue to write it: don't judge the parent and immediately label the child as a brat when they are having a meltdown until you have walked in their shoes.  Sometimes all it takes is a kind word or gesture and you can make a difference in a situation that isn't going so great.