Saturday, September 22, 2007

Birthday Pandemonium Week

Whew! What a week. My oldest kiddo's birthday was on Tuesday. He is eleven years old. I can't stand it. Some days seem to take years to complete and yet the whole 11 years has flown by. Go figure.

Granny transported cupcakes, ice cream cups, and drinks in a cooler to school on Tuesday for the classroom party since I was teaching and couldn't do it myself. Two of the girls made up a cheer to commemorate the birthday shenanigans.

We had the obligatory family party Tuesday night after work. We ate hot dogs and had ice cream cake. My nieces couldn't make it, so that was a bummer, but it was a nice get together, even if I did have to clean my house wearing an aircast.

Friday, I was scheduled to work detention at school, and we went in early. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the students who were assigned to work didn't show up, so we left after about an hour. So, we set off to Decatur to pick up my new orthotics and orthopedic shoes. This saved us a trip on Saturday. It took over 1 1/2 hours to get there--ugh! I ran into two detours due to road work and then my directions were incorrect. We are probably lucky to have found the place at all. But, we got them and all is well. If only I could wear them now. I go back to the orthopedist on the 27th and with any luck I will be able to use real shoes instead of THE BOOT.

Today, we picked up a friend and took my boys and friend to the movies for the "official kid gathering." We sat through Mr. Bean's Holiday and I can honestly say that it is a supreme act of parental love to sit through that much slapstick and Monty Python mimickry. Don't get me wrong, I love Python, just not bad rip offs of their skits. The boys, however, laughed until I thought they would pee their pants, so it was a successful outing. Now, they are all over here, running around the through my house. But, it 's a good thing.

My youngest son has had friends over on numerous occasions. Even kids who come over to see both of my kids, gravitate toward my youngest. My aspie son sometimes joins in and sometimes does not. This is the first time that he has asked a kid (who is 3 years older than him) over and they have really had a blast and he is here for my aspie son, not for the other one, who is also joining in the play. My kid really feels special and it makes my heart sing. Today, it is all about him. I am grateful.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's good to have Super Friends!

One of my favorite classes to teach is British Literature. The kids seem to really enjoy the Arthurian legends and this year was no exception. One story in particular, "Gawain and the Green Knight" is the first story where a knight (a superhero in his time) wore someone else's magical girdle (made much like underwear that pull up really high) outside his clothing to protect him. After the kids got past the man wearing another man's underwear part, they realized that our modern superheroes wear their underwear on the outside too.

I'll give you three guesses as to what the assignment was that arose from this discussion...
The first two don't count.
Yes, this lad, dressed as a cheap disco ball, complete with Superman undies and a cape, is my 18 year old brother. Pray for me.
These are all of my little Superheroes (Matthew, Michael, Mikhail, Stephanie, Nathan in front). What a motley crew they turned out to be!
Yes, this student attempted to be terribly risque in his choice of Superhero names. His superpower was the ability to search out large mammary glands in teenage girls (much like the skills of ordinary teenage boys, but that is another story). Unfortunately, grammar prevailed and he only confused folks with the label of "Double D D's" emblazoned on his chest. While everyone knew what he meant, they realized that he really hadn't said it after all.

I think everyone should grow up and be a teacher. It's good for giggles at least!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Birthday week

Well, my oldest turns 11 years old tomorrow. I can't believe how old he is getting. He is so excited about it, that he is really driving me crazy. He just can't wait.

He'll have a good time tomorrow.
He'll drive me insane tonight.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'm a Proud Mama

This week, I received an invitation for my younger son to participate in the Gifted Program at our school. I am so proud of him. He absolutely loves school and to learn.

This class will meet twice a week with the Headmaster of our school. The kids will work on doing hands on science experiments and history projects. I think he will really groove on this.

As for my older son, he has done extremely well this week in school. The new computer and software has helped his attitude tremendously. I have spent this week in total awe of how well he has done with the help of his new technology. His attitude has improved dramatically. I knew that academics were very stressful for him, but I didn't realize how a little success would help him relax about school.

I feel so blessed. God is good.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Secret

My friend, Karen, told me about a book that she was reading when I was on vacation with her. It was called The Secret. She tried to explain to me what it was about and I was really intrigued.

The other day, hubby and I were in a bookstore and he saw the book and asked if that was the book that Karen told us about. It was, so I got it.

It was a little odd getting into it at first, but once I got past the first little bit and got accustomed to the odd terminology at times, I realized that it touched upon some really familiar things.

As I read, I bounced back and forth between memories of scriptures and moral lessons and the long, rambling talks that Misty and I had during our marathon training sessions (that broke my foot and eventually sidelined Misty, too).

This author synthesized down Biblical messages to basically explain why and how, "you reap what you sow." For something so basic and so simple, it is really awe inspiring once you get into it and really grasp it.

I am amazed how much of this concept I knew and I respected and I believed, but I didn't embrace and use it.

Okay, maybe I don't scream obscene things at other drivers when I am mad, because of these lessons, but I didn't accept how these types of lessons instruct us on a deeper level: how my attitudes and my thoughts and emotions are affecting the world around me.

It's the key to achieving deeper faith. It's the key to developing balance in your life. It's the key to keeping your sanity, long term, when surrounded by hormonal teenagers at work every day.

And I had missed it.


One of the biggest things about the recent educational testing is that our son needs extensive use of adaptive technologies in order to be successful academically. Technology=Money and that has been in short supply lately. It was a stretch to pay for the testing!

But, my parents jumped up, unbidden, and provided a laptop, voice recognition software, headphones, printer, and educational software, and a few audio books to get our little guy started. It's an early birthday gift, but I am the one who feels gifted far more than he does--and he really does!

What can I say? Prayers are answered. Needs are met. Kids are loved.
God is good.

Growing Like a Weed

My little wheezer has grown so much over the summer that when we put long pants on him, they are all capri-length. So, we ran today and got a great deal at the Old Navy outlet. They are becoming an Old Navy (sans Outlet) and are having a 50% off sale. So, I got two pairs of really good fitting jeans for the price of one. I'm a happy camper!

I will go back for more over the weekend. I wonder if they have anything to fit the older son....

Educational Testing

It became apparent last year that we needed more information about how my Aspie thinks and works and processes information so that we can help him more with his academics. So, on the advice of some wonderful doctors and therapists, we made an appointment with a Neuropsychologist in Fayetteville. We had to wait months for our first meeting.

Dr. Lynda Boucougnani-Whitehead has turned out to be an absolutely fabulous person as well as a true professional. She and my kid hit it off right away and she has an uncanny ability to appreciate him where he is now, without judging him for any deficits that he may have.

Well, we went this past Friday to meet with her about his results. It was very, very informative, but an overwhelming amount of information to process at one time. We met for over 2 hours and only touched the tip of the iceberg. But, at least we didn't smack the iceberg Titanic style and self-destruct!

After a couple of days of looking at this report and processing the myriad of suggestions and techniques, I think I have almost wrapped my head around this stuff. We are looking at a pretty severe non-verbal learning disorder in addition to the Asperger's syndrome. His working memory is faulty and he lacks executive functioning skills and the ability to visualize anything. It's going to be a long road ahead.

The good news is that we're not cutting our own road through virgin forest or unfriendly terrain. The road exists. Its adequate. It's just likely to be pretty bumpy at times. But the destination is worth getting to, so it will be okay--even if our butts go numb at times during the journey. And it is a journey.

Some days it is pretty surreal. But, that may be due to myself more than my son!

New Meds and Healthy Kids for now

To catch up with the last couple of weeks...
We've had multiple medication changes for my little asthmatic. But the best solution has been to dress him like he is going to the frozen arctic. Apparently, the AC is so cool, that once he gets chilled, it's all over.

I took the kids with me to be casted for my new orthotics and to purchase my first two pair of orthopedic shoes. Not a time to have kids with you, but, hey, what's a Mom to do?

I'm getting sick of the boot. Really sick.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Feeling crafty

Okay, I am at home with asthmatic younger son today. Every time we get a rainy spell or temperature change, his asthma goes nuts. If this continues, I am going to have to insist on a medication change. The current medicine works really well for most of the year and it is non-steroidal and has very few side effects and I like that, but we are missing lots of school at this point and the year is just now getting started.

The giant granny square blanket (or blue blob) that I started has morphed into a Christmas gift for someone. I won't say who, because I want it to remain a secret, but it's a family member. I think it will be cool. The larger it gets, the better it looks. It has a varigated blue center that ranges from sky blue to navy. That is followed by a wide band of a medium, wedgewood blue, and a band that I have just started of navy blue. The larger it gets, the more I like it.

I did learn that there is a Project Linus chapter in Griffin and I would like to work with some kids and other staff members to maybe make a group donation from the school. Another teacher, Leigh Ann said she would do it with me and she is the one who suggested Project Linus. I think it is really good to show the kids by example about charitable works done for Christ. Often, we adults, talk about helping others and we might do things individually, but how often do we work on such things alongside our kids and students so that they may truly experience the joy of giving?

Speaking of giving, one of my students is going to Romania in November in order to minister to the homeless there as well as to spread the Gospel in general. One of the ways that he is asking for support is with donations of new blankets. Now, I knew that I would support this young man's desire to spread God's plan, but I love the idea of sending a tangible symbol of Christian love to people who are cold and freezing in Romania. Hubby and I could write a check and that money would be put to good use, but this is an opportunity for the kids to take part as well. They can earn money to provide blankets themselves. They can shop with me to decide which blankets to purchase. They can help me find the best blankets for the least money so we can do more. If we write a check, the boys may never really understand how $ spreads the Word. But, they understand being cold and tired. They have some idea of what it would be like to be forced to be outside in that cold. They will know that they, themselves, made an extra effort to show kindness to someone that they will never meet. Someone who can't say thank you; someone who is genuinely in NEED.

My boys are obsessed with wants these days. It's nice to break it down to show NEEDS and how it is scripturally correct to sacrifice a bit (or a lot) in order to demonstrate God's love and blessings to someone in need. My youngest started writing his Santa list today in between breathing treatments. While, I don't blame him for wanting things (I want things, too), I do want both of my boys to learn to prioritize between NEEDS and WANTS.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

clomp, step, clomp, step

Okay, I am getting somewhat used to the sound of trying to be mobile in an aircast boot. On the whole, I think I am doing pretty well. I am still bummed about the walk, but I have accepted that. Basically, I am really missing my early morning walks. It was a reason to get up in the morning. It gave structure and purpose to my day. It was social time, too. I was walking and enjoying the company of a good friend.

My doctor has approved that I can ride an exercise bike and resume my elliptical as long as I build up slowly. But, while it has seemed so easy to get up and meet Misty, I can't seem to make myself do it just for me. Plus, my foot aches and throbs just from my daily grind of being on my feet, so I am not terribly crazy about trying to do more and making my life miserable earlier in the day.

I have found a way to help ease my stress. I have gotten out my knitting and began to start making a few things again. It helps to feel like I am being somewhat productive, at least. Last night, I decided to give crocheting a whirl. I knew how to do a very little bit of crocheting from when I was a little girl and a neighbor showed me. I found a good tutorial on the internet and followed along. I don't know if it was due to the fact that I had played around with a hook and yarn so many years ago, or if it is just easier in that I only had to learn to really manipulate one hook with one hand as opposed to two needles in both hands, but I seemed to pick it up really simply. Don't get me wrong, I am by no means an expert, but I didn't struggle for days in order to feel comfortable making basic stitches. It took DAYS and DAYS with knitting and my tension is still not the best and I have been playing with it off and on for 3 years or so. For what it's worth, I am enjoying it. I love having options.

I have scored some awesome fabrics from the dollar table at Wal-Mart in the last 10 days or so. I don't have much time to sew and I am a very rank beginner, but my Mom has gotten excited that I have lost my 40 lbs or so and she is helping me a bunch! She has made up a beautiful microsuede into a full, gored skirt that is dreamy. It is a dark, chocolate brown and with topstitching, it looks just like suede. It's going to be gorgeous for this fall. She is also making a matching jacket. It's yummy. I did find some gorgeous taupe fabric for a suit and some khaki for a light cardigan with 3/4 sleeves. I will likely wear that lots at school when it gets chilly.

Mom also found some fabrics that I had bought years ago (before my weight had gotten so high) and pulled it out and some of it was in colors that I am trying to work around. Subtle greens, browns, touches of burgundy. So, my wardrobe is growing without my having to spend much money. It's good since I don't have much left since losing weight. Instead of grungy t-shirts and jeans that don't fit, I will have a few skirts, pants, and such that can be put together in a number of ways. I've never been this coordinated in my wardrobe and I think I am going to really like it!

School is going well this year, so far. Other than a few issues with enforcing dress codes, I haven't had any real problems. I am sticking to my high standards and insistence in classroom order to really push the kids. I think it's going to pay off, overall. I think we will see an increase in SAT scores in the next couple of years. Plus, I have seen a decline in both work ethic and critical thinking skills over my career. So, that is what I am stressing. Critical thinking and the desire to work hard to achieve a goal is likely to be a definitive factor in future success for these kids. Oh well, I will get off of my soapbox for now!

Happy Labor day!