Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Pictures

TJ bought me a new camera for Christmas. . . one I've been wanting for about 10 years. I'm still learning to use it as it is an amazing camera and has lots of functions. But, here is a sample of pictures I've taken over the past couple of days.

Ta at our Pastor's son's wedding


Sleeping Teagan


The boys with Ron "Patch" Hamilton

Rainbow, our cat

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Merry Christmas!

As you celebrate with loved ones, pause for a moment to reflect on the birth of the One and Only True Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Like we sang over cinnamon rolls this morning, Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sorry for the delay in posting. . .

Man, this has been a tiring week. The semester ended Monday night at 8:44pm (the time I handed in my last final exam) but the busyness has lasted throughout the week.

The tiredness actually began late last week (well, truthfully I’ve been tired since August!) because T.G. was sick. She was running a fever that began Saturday and ended Sunday night. She had a terrible runny nose and was constantly rubbing her ear. I brought her to the doctor on Monday and low and behold, she was fine! She is teething and the doctor attributed her ear pain to her teeth. Of course, by Tuesday her nose was running clear and by Wednesday it was gone.

Tuesday I accompanied my new class (the class I will be teaching starting in January) Christmas shopping. We went to Target and Chick-Fil-A. It was fun, but exhausting. The children range in age between 7 and 9, and all have cognitive disabilities. I was paired with 2 girls who have Down Syndrome, and I gotta tell ya, they are adorable! A handful, but adorable! One girl was actually in Th’s preschool class a couple years back.

I have been busy baking Christmas goodies and trying to get some last-minute shopping done. Ta and I went to the mall today with my old class, and he really had fun. The students enjoyed his company and he was very well-behaved (it’s amazing what a little one-on-one Mommy time does for behavior!) It was nice to see my students again, especially outside of the classroom setting.

Ta woke up with a cough this morning and I’m not sure who I was kidding when I thought everyone would be healthy over Christmas. I just pray that no one else gets it (I think it’s a cold) and that these next 2 weeks are enjoyable for all.

I am also behind on getting out my Christmas cards. I have them written, sort of, but I need to separate the pictures that go with them and insert our family’s Christmas letter. I hope to finish everything tonight so I can bring them to the Post Office in the morning.

Well, Motherhood calls as Teagan is ready to nurse. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Things that make you go, "Hmm. . ."

I seem to be in a "funk" lately. I am just really saddened by the fact that my kids are getting older. Time seems to be passing so quickly, and I feel like I have missed so much of their lives, mainly Th's. It is hard for me to remember him as an infant, toddler, or 3 year old for that matter. Speaking with friends about this, someone told me it was because I have more recent memories of my other children. In other words, with each child I have, I have memories of the "newbie" and the older memories fade. I honestly think that's the case, and I wish I could capture the time and relive certain events again.

I guess I am just struggling to find time for everyone, and I don't just mean the kids, but TJ, too. We spent most of the day together (with Teagan) as a friend of mine from church kept the other children so we could go Christmas shopping. We had a great time; I, of course, laughed more today than I have in a while because my husband is such a goof. But, it was nice and we definitely need to do things like that more often. However, I have my memories of the days before I had kids, when it was just TJ and me against the "big, bad world." Those memories are still vivid and clear in my mind, unlike the days of when Th was a preschooler. I guess I can't explain it very clearly, but know that I am struggling.

Struggling with aging, struggling with mothering, struggling with my memories.

*I am thankful I serve a God Who doesn't forget and ALWAYS remembers everything about me.*

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Study Day

Tomorrow begins my finals. I take my first of 5 exams in the morning. I have 2 on Thursday, 1 on Friday, and my last exam next Monday. I have reached the point in the semester where I cannot think any longer; my brain is fried and I have lost all motivation. I simply cannot learn anything else, so studying is difficult for me. It is at this point in the semester where I fully rely on the Lord for His strength and wisdom. Rather than study, all I can do is review my notes and pray the information I have been learning over the past 16 weeks comes to the forefront of my mind on exam day. Every semester I reach this point, but the Lord is faithful and has allowed me to do well in the past. I have a 4.0 Grade Point Average (GPA), and at this point, it would be nice to finish out both the semester and my degree with that GPA, but I am okay with getting a ‘B’.

I am also praying about the future and what is in store for me. I planned on beginning graduate school part-time to work on my Master’s degree while teaching. I am not sure if I will teach in the school district full-time or if I will perhaps look into something else part-time. A former professor of mine is the lead Special Ed person for the school district and is looking for teachers. I spoke with her last night and she is interested in me starting as early as May and finishing out the school year because there are 2 teachers going out on maternity leave then. On the other hand, one of my current professors suggested I apply to become a graduate assistant, meaning I would go to graduate school full-time and work in the Special Education department at the University assisting professors and helping in the field of research. It would be an awesome learning experience as I would present at state conferences and attend national ones. Plus, as a grad. assistant, my tuition is paid in full, and I would receive a small stipend for working. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it would help cover the cost of childcare while I am in school. Additionally, by attending full-time, I could finish my degree in 3 semesters rather than 6, saving me time and money. It’s definitely worth looking into and not surprisingly, TJ fully supported the idea.

So, if you think of it, please pray the Lord would open the necessary doors for me as to what He wants me to do and close others if it is not His will for my life. Both options sound promising and exciting, but I want to be in God’s will doing whatever it is He has planned. Also pray for me this week to have clarity of thought and a sound mind while taking my exams. Unfortunately, sometimes I get so nervous my mind draws a blank. I pray before every test I take, and often that helps to calm me. But, there are instances where I simply cannot recall the necessary information and leave items blank or incomplete. Because of the nature of the courses I am taking this semester, I need to do well as they are directly related to teaching.

Thanks for the support!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Last day of teaching :(

I have homework I need to do but I wanted to share about my last day of teaching.

I gave my mentor teacher a snowflake Christmas ornament. I also wrote a little poem to go with it, but my printer is out of paper so I just wrote a summary of it in her thank-you card. She loved it (it was basically about how her students are unique and go through life unnoticed by the world. Just as the crystals in the snowflake grow and expand, she helps her students to do the same). My mentor teacher planned a little party for me and we had lots of goodies (brownies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, and apple cider). The students each presented me with a card they decorated, and inside they wrote their favorite lesson I taught them. One student wrote about helping him with his exercises (we participated in a Pilates class), another wrote about using the phonebook (I taught several lessons on that topic!), a third wrote about cooking, another wrote about healthy foods (they learned planning meals, writing shopping lists, going shopping, & cooking), and the last student wrote about counting M&Ms. The pictures on the front and insides of the cards matched what they wrote about. They were all so sweet, and I am going to miss the students so much!

But, I am going Christmas shopping with them in 2 weeks so I’ll see them soon!

Counting M&Ms

Healthy foods (I love the chef with flippers!)

Phonebook lessons

Exercising on the mats (look at my big muscles!)

Baking cookies

The students and me!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I have submitted all of my projects/assignments with the exception of one, and it is due Thursday. I am still revising my lesson plans and tweaking the assessments, and I have a little bit of time left to get it to perfection before I have to submit it.

I found out about some of my final exams. Of my 6 classes, I have to take 5 finals. However, 1 is open-book/note/handout, and another is a case study about a fake student. I will be working in a small group to assess the fake student's behavior and present our strategies to the class. So, that only leaves 3 finals that I have to really study hard for. I will have to prepare for the open-book/note/handout exam in that I need to organize myself so that I can find my references when I need them. My instructor gave us a study guide last night in class and there is a ton of material I need to review and be prepared to answer questions about.

Thursday is my final day of student teaching for this semester. I am trying to figure out what to get my mentor teacher as a parting gift. Any suggestions?

Friday, November 28, 2008


I'm still here. It's been a crazy week with family visiting. My sis and Kaylee were here last weekend, and my parents and brother are here now. We've been busy doing stuff and I also had school Monday and Tuesday. Next week is my final week of school, and finals begin the week after. I have 4 huge projects due next week. I am trying to finish up writing the reports and other necessary paperwork. It's all very time-consuming.

In other news, my Thanksgiving was good with the exception of one minor glitch- my microwave caught on fire! It began sparking and I told TJ so he could come and look at it. He was pre-occupied on the computer so he sort of blew me off. He only took me half-serious when I told him it was sparking. He got up, looked at it, turned it on for about 2 seconds, and said it was good to go. I believed him and turned it on again. About 15 seconds in, it sparked and black smoke came bellowing out, filling my entire first floor. My mom and dad were on a walk with the boys, so I turned off the microwave and stove, grabbed T.G. and Teagan, and headed outside. TJ grabbed the fire extinguisher and began unscrewing everything to get to where the fire was (it was inside the microwave where the electronic components are located). By the time he got everything off and had access to the wires, the fire was out. But, dinner was greatly delayed and the house stunk of greasy smoke all night.

We went out and bought a new one today. We can't live without a microwave!

*I am thankful we are safe and nothing other than the microwave was damaged.*

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I am sooo happy!

I received the best news tonight when I got home from school. I received an email and in it, I found out I am going to be doing my full-time student teaching in the classroom I had hoped to be assigned. Although, in human eyes it seems this placement was by chance, I know it was all God. I have been praying about my internship situation for a few weeks now because I will be away from my kids all day. Now that I know for sure where I will be placed, I can better plan my childcare schedule for next semester and my mind is at ease. I will be close to home, the college, and the kids' schools. I feel better knowing that I am only a few minutes away, and I am so thankful the Lord answered my prayer in this way.

Well, I'm off to bed!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


TJ took the boys to a basketball game last night. I was surprised they stayed the entire game. I thought the boys would get bored and they'd have to leave early; I was wrong.

We were up to midnight last night. I was messing around on FaceBook (I joined almost 6 months ago but never had time to mess with my profile or do anything) and TJ was watching TV. Believe it or not, I am almost caught up on homework and am even getting a little bit ahead. As the semester comes near to a close, I am losing motivation to continue to put forth perfection and find myself settling for near-perfection. I can't be perfect all the time! LOL! :)

My sis and Kaylee are coming to visit this Thursday and are staying until next Sunday. I am excited. Kaylee is growing so fast and has changed so much since I last saw her. She is pulling up on the furniture and able to stand on her own. She is so cute and I can't wait to squeeze her cheeks (yes, I am the aunt that squeezes cheeks- I love chubby cheeks!)

We are getting ready for Thanksgiving, as well. TJ wants to hang the Christmas lights and get all the Christmas stuff ready. My mom, dad, and brother are coming to visit, and we are going to be busy the entire time they are here. We are going to cut down our tree the Friday after Thanksgiving, and we'll probably go see a movie or something on Saturday. They are leaving Sunday after church. I won't be able to work on homework while they're here, so I am trying to get as much done beforehand so I'm not as stressed when they leave.

Well, the kids are waking from their naps and I need to get dinner started. We're having pot pies. . .

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Feeling better. . . Sort of

Well, I ended up with the "bug" and was down for the count yesterday. But, I am better, as are the kids, and so far no one else is showing symptoms.

Teagan had her audiologist appointment yesterday. All is well with her. Her hearing appears to be “normal” although it took a few tries to get those results. Because of her age, it is difficult to get a good reading, and I have to bring her back in 6 months to have her rechecked. I was also told to monitor her babbling and other language development as she ages for signs of a delay.

On the same note, TJ took Ta to have his hearing checked at a separate appointment. As you may recall, this child has had many ear troubles. He has had 2 sets of tubes, the most recent of which he received in April. Turns out, the left tube is completely out and the right tube is clogged with fluid behind his ear. At this point he has a conductive hearing loss in his right ear, and he has to go back in Jan. to have his hearing re-checked. I am just frustrated because I have done exactly what the doctor has told me to do and followed his advice as far as going through with surgery twice but his ears aren’t any better. I don’t know what else to do. At this point, he is normal in all areas of development, but I’m afraid that will change the longer he has fluid behind his ear. Hearing loss is a serious matter, and I am at my wit’s end. TJ, as much as I appreciate the fact that he took Ta to the appointment, didn't know how to answer me when I began to question him about the visit; they were questions he didn’t know to ask the doctor (this was TJ's first time taking him to the doctor. He was forced to because I can’t be in 2 places at once!)

I called today and spoke with the doctor's nurse. She was able to answer my questions, and although I hate that Ta doesn't go back until January, she said it's not uncommon for fluid to take up to 6 weeks to clear. If, when he goes back, the fluid is still there, we'll talk options then. For now, his left ear is able to compensate for his lack of hearing in the right ear. If his hearing is the same or worse in Jan. then we will discuss options.

I guess I need to make sure I'm able to go to the appointment! :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

The "Bug"

We all just got over colds (with the exception of Th, he still has a cough) and now a stomach bug has hit us! Ugh!!! It started with T.G. on Saturday. She seemed fine all morning and played as usual. We came home from Th’s soccer game and the kids played outside until lunch. In the middle of lunch, she vomited EVERYWHERE! TJ stripped her, and I bathed her while he cleaned up. If I haven’t shared it before, I don’t do well with vomit. I get sick at the smell of it.

She vomited a couple more times after that, and had diarrhea to make matters worse. Poor baby- her bottom was raw and despite my efforts to keep her diaper fresh and apply cream after each change, it didn’t really help. It’s better today, and so is she.

However, the bug met Ta at 1am this morning. Nothing like being woke up to the sound of vomit. Thankfully it was on TJ’s side of the bed. The smell alone made me gag a few times, but I worked my way through it to help TJ clean up. Ta is home with me today and I keep praying he doesn’t vomit any more. Or, if he does, at least make it into the trash can. TJ warned me before he left for work that I can’t call him to come home and clean up, meaning I will have to do it myself if Ta misses.

My stomach is a little sour, too. I ate some toast and am trying to take it easy. I don’t know what I’ll do if I catch the bug. Other moms will agree, if we get sick, we have it worse because we still have to muddle through the day since there is no one else to help us care for the kids. There is nothing worse than being sick and not being able to rest, especially with a stomach bug. It’s times like that (when I get sick) that I wish I had family to help me.

On that note, I am off to do some school work. Have a great day!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Warning- Graphic Image- Not For Kids!

"The first thing I'd do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing that I'd do." -- Senator Barack Obama, speaking to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, July 17, 2007

I received this in an email from a friend of mine.

It is difficult to look at; in fact, it kills me to look at it.

I hate Planned Parenthood and all they stand for. They deceive so many women, myself included, into thinking abortion is okay and an acceptable option. IT’S NOT! I am so thankful there are crisis pregnancy centers around the country to help dispel some of the myths surrounding abortion. I just wish I had walked into one of those centers rather than Planned Parenthood. In my scared, confused state of thinking I made the worst decision of my life. Knowing I did this to my own child makes me sick to my stomach and brings tears to my eyes. BUT, more importantly, I have been forgiven in Christ and learned from my mistake. Now that Obama is President and the Senate is full of liberals, only God knows what will happen. I pray abortion statistics decrease, but more than likely they won’t.

Below is a video of a song that has been playing in my head for the past several days, mainly since first receiving the email with the picture of the baby. The words in the video are powerful, but the images are even more striking. I guess I just keep singing it over and over as a reminder that my sins are forgiven, and I thank God for that.

It’s hard to get over some things, and some things a person never does move past, but I think that’s so we never forget our heinous sins or the power of the cross.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, T.G.

From this. . .

to this. . .

You have grown into such a big girl! You are sweet and loving, and a great big sister to Teagan. I am so thankful the Lord allowed me to be your mommy.

Happy Birthday, baby girl!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bad Mom Award

Talk about convicting! I lost my patience in these past 30 hours more times than I care to acknowledge. Then I got on-line and read about moms who have recently lost their children to horrible illnesses- 1 to CDH and another to cancer. Of course, now I have tremendous guilt and wish I could have handled situations differently today. I’m sure each of those moms would give anything to have their kids back, and here I am thankful it’s bed time because the house is peaceful and I am able to sit for a minute without having to go break up an argument (or worse) between the kids. As much as I love my children, some days I think I’m going to go insane. Mothering is by far the most difficult task I have ever done. I guess the good thing about TJ going away is that I appreciate him more now. I never realized how much I need those breaks that he offers me by coming home for lunch and helping me with bedtime. Having to do it myself, I learned I could never be a single mom, or at least not a happy single mom!

I have been trying to replace my lack of patience with patience. I took time to write on my blackboard Isaiah 41:10b.

Also, I am officially sick. My throat is hurting and my sinus’ are draining. I only hope Teagan doesn’t catch it. T.G. and Ta are miserable, although Ta continues to act like himself. It’s funny how illness doesn’t seem to affect his energy level- he must be related to the Energizer Bunny (he just keeps going and going and going!) I, on the other hand, am ready for bed. I am trying my best to stay awake until TJ comes home, so hopefully it won’t be too late. If not, I guess he can wake me on the couch. . .

Happy Halloween!

Man oh man am I tired! TJ is at the Wilds this weekend for a men's retreat so I have been home with the kiddos.

We went to visit the nursing home yesterday afternoon for Halloween, and then came home and ordered a pizza. While we waited for the pizza to arrive, we went through the candy and put all the stuff they aren't allowed to have (hard candy mainly) in a bowl for the trick-or-treaters who come to our neighborhood (we don't do trick-or-treating except at the nursing home- during daylight hours). They had fun periodically checking the bowl to see if it was empty. Surprisingly, most of it was gone within about 2 hours. There were only about 8 pieces or so left by the time I turned off our porch light at 8pm. This was the first time I have done that (I usually send the candy to work with TJ) and the kids had such a good time, I think I'll do it every year.

Ta and T.G. aren't feeling well and both had difficulty sleeping last night. T.G. woke up at 10:15pm and I didn't get her back to sleep until about 11pm. Then, Ta woke at 11:15 but thankfully I was able to get him back to sleep in his bed. . . I went to bed after nursing Teagan, about 12:30am. Ta woke at 2:30am and I brought him in my room. Then Teagan woke at 3:30am to nurse again, and I was up with her until about 4. Th woke me up at 6am, and Ta woke shortly thereafter.

I took everyone to Th's soccer game this morning, then we headed to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. Since the middlers aren't feeling well, the trip was short so they could get home to eat lunch and get to bed. I would love to take a nap but I have too much to do- dishes, laundry, figuring out something for dinner, and of course schoolwork. I need to go to the grocery store but it's VERY difficult with 4 kids. I may just wait until tomorrow afternoon when TJ is home.

That's about it for us. I am including a few pictures taken at the nursing home yesterday. Th was a soldier, Ta was Piglet, and the girls were pumpkins. They looked cute! Oh, to update on Teagan, she has her hearing evaluation on Nov. 11. I am going to have to miss class to take her, which I hate to do because I enjoy the class, but of course my kids come first. I hope I will get results at the appointment and not have to wait.

Monday, October 27, 2008

From Concord to Kids

What a whirlwind week! We just finished up Missions Week at church, and we had 5 missionaries and their families from all over the world. We had lunch with all of them on Thursday and then hosted one family for supper on Friday night. Of all the ministries through our church, missions is my favorite, and I think my family's favorite, too. The kids have a bulletin board in their room that exclusively holds prayer cards for missionaries. The kids know each missionary on the board and love adding new prayer cards. They enjoyed learning about the people and places each of the missionaries are striving to bring the gospel to during Missions Conference this week, and we are all sad it's over. But, it was a sort of reunion for us because we got to spend time with the Kings, who used to live down the street from us but moved about a month ago to begin their church plant in Concord, North Carolina. They now live about 45 minutes from us, not too far, but not within walking distance like we were. Ta especially misses them because the youngest member of the King family was in Ta's class at church. I think both of the boys were thrilled to be able to play together again.

Teagan had her 1 month check up this morning. Overall she is doing great. She is 9 pounds, 13 ounces (50th percentile for weight) and 22 inches long (75th percentile for height). She continues to amaze me with how different she is compared to the other 3 kids. Th was in the 75th for weight and 25th for height, and Ta and T.G. have both been in the 10th for weight and height. On a different note, I have been concerned about a few issues with Teagan. She is still jaundice (I can see it in her eyes) but the doc ran some bloodwork and the jaundice levels are within the acceptable range. He is not concerned about it. More importantly, I am very concerned with her hearing. She had a hearing test in the hospital and she passed, but I notice often that she is not startled by noises that she should be. For instance, TJ finally replaced the entire downstairs flooring with the wood floor we purchased back in the spring (that's a separate blog entry). One day he was working and he dropped a pile of the wood planks. It was really loud and scared me, but Teagan didn't even bat an eye. There have been other instances where she didn't even seem to notice the noise and chaos around her, and I think that is why she sleeps so good. So, I shared my concern with the doctor and he tested it by dropping her chart on the ground. It was pretty loud considering we were in a tiny, quiet exam room. Again, she did not respond. As a result, she is being referred to an audiologist for an in-depth evaluation. I should find out by the end of this week when it will be.

Now you see why I say she is constantly amazing me? I am just thankful that it is nothing serious (I know some would argue a hearing loss is serious, but I can deal with it). TJ has a great attitude about it, too. When I first shared with him that I thought Teagan couldn't hear, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, "So I guess I'll have to learn sign language." Would you expect anything less from him?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sweet Feet

I took the kids to get their picture taken. . . well, pictures of their feet, anyway. The picture turned out soooooo cute! I wish I could have been able to afford the wall-size portrait. Instead, I settled for a smaller framed version.

Teagan is doing awesome. She is still sleeping great, especially at night. She has been going 5-7 hours at night, meaning TJ hasn't had to get up with her for a few days. :) I, on the other hand, am still absolutely exhausted. I haven't been getting to bed until between 11:30 and midnight, and then Teagan wakes between 3:30 and 4:30am to feed. Thursday she woke at 4:30 and didn't go back down until 5:15am. My alarm goes off at 5:30. Needless to say, I didn't go back to bed and am still suffering from the lack of sleep.

I am slowly beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as school work goes. I am teaching a lot and learning so much. I also had a sort of epiphany moment regarding a solution for my own kids. I can't wait to find time to implement my new behavior plan. A lot of what makes up special education is understanding behaviors, their function, and taking data to support the hypothesis- all behavior is communicative (we communicate our wants, needs, likes, dislikes through our behavior. Think about it- when you're in a good mood, your behavior reflects that and you communicate that through smiling, hugging, etc. The same is true for when you are in a bad mood- your behavior is much harsher, rougher). Anyway, I have noticed that one of my children has a difficult time processing information, especially when it is given all at one time. To make it easier on him, TJ and I have started using one-word commands rather than whole sentences (i.e. "Teeth, hair, bed" instead of saying, "Go brush your teeth. Then, when you're finished, comb your hair and make your bed.") See how much easier it is to process? But, although he's doing better, he still has trouble remembering what he needs to do and when. He is able to do the first task, and sometimes the second and third depending on if the tasks are related (teeth and hair are similar since they both occur in the bathroom and involve brushing). However, if the tasks are non-related (i.e. put the cup on the counter, get your shoes on, lock the back door), then he has difficulty getting past the second task. I have decided to implement a visual schedule for our various routines. I am going to make one for the morning, one for the afternoon, and one for the evening. I am going to put them on Velcro strips so that he can monitor his own progress. I simply Velcro the tasks I want him to complete and he brings me the picture symbols once he has completed the task. I am also hoping this will eliminate the need for me to continue repeating myself 500 times a day. I'm sick of hearing myself talk and I know my kids are, too. This is the same type of intervention that is used for children with autism, but I know it will work for my kids, too. Think about it- I write a To-Do list on a daily basis and check off tasks as I complete them. This is essentially what I am doing except using picture symbols instead of words (although there will be words on it, too). I am simply giving my son a tool to use to promote his independence and decrease his off-task behaviors (he is easily sidetracked, especially if he can't remember what he's supposed to be doing). Of course, I wouldn't be a true special ed teacher if I didn't take data to record his progress, so once I get all the picture symbols made and implement them, I will begin to take data. I'll let you know how it goes. I hope to get the pictures made soon (as in the next week or so) but I'll have to see. I have some more major assignments I have to complete these next 2 weeks so they are sort of my priority.

Well, it's time for me to get the laundry in the dryer and then I'm headed to bed early tonight. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Teagan's Pics

My favorite is the picture in the middle of her holding my finger. I also really like the top one of her tiny feet. I love my kids' feet! Call me crazy, but on Friday I am taking all the kids to have a picture made together of their feet, from biggest (Th) to smallest (Teagan).

Enough for tonight- I've been doing homework and my eyes are starting to cross from looking at this computer screen for so long. Plus, I'm a wimp and TJ went to bed already so I'm downstairs alone- I hate that! Good night!

*I am thankful for this precious baby, a true blessing and gift from God.*

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

School Pictures

Here is a sampling of Ta's and T.G.'s school pictures. T.G. would not smile, but at least she didn't cry like she did last year. I absolutely love their pictures; I think they turned out great!

Monday, October 13, 2008

What do dancing and Sir Pur have to do with each other?

They were both at Jeannine's wedding!

The wedding was great, probably one of the best I've ever attended. It was classy, yet fun, much like Jeannine's personality. It was at a ritzy country club in the Ballentyne area of Charlotte. It was gorgeous! We sat with some friends of ours from the neighborhood, which I was glad because they all know Th so he was able to be himself. One of the evening's highlights was watching Th dance. That kid has some moves! He was making me laugh so hard I was crying! I'm not too sure where he learned his moves (a-hem! TJ!) because TJ and I don't dance around the house, but regardless, he was the hit of our table.

Another highlight was when Sir Pur (the Carolina Panther's mascot) made his appearance. It was awesome! Of course we forgot our camera so the only pictures I have are from my phone but the quality is poor because I didn't have a flash. Oh well. Th thought that was the best, and it was really neat to see Sir Pur tossing the football (an autographed game football, I might add) to Jeannine.

I am extremely tired and am teaching a cooking lesson tomorrow to my students. We are making a fruit pizza. I need to get to bed because I have to be up early, plus I'll be up throughout the night to nurse the baby. I am feeling more and more overwhelmed as each class passes by. Just when I think I'm making progress on my school assignments, I get another one added to me! It's never-ending it seems! I just need to make it through 7 more weeks and then I'm done with this semester. By God's grace I made it to the half-way point; I am thankful for that! Well, that's enough of an update for tonight. Good night!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

More Musings

I managed to somewhat successfully find time to study for and pass the 3 tests I had this week. I won’t get my grades until next week, but I feel confident about my overall performance- by no means a perfect score but hopefully all A’s.

I meet with my advisor in about 10 days to get clearance for registration. I can’t believe this time is here already- I will soon be registering for my final semester! As stressful as this semester has been and continues to be, it really is going by quickly. I am half way through it and I still have my hair and it’s not completely gray! LOL! I am just more excited that I will soon be completely done and hold a teaching certificate in my hand. It still seems very surreal. I’m sure it will take me 6 months to recover from my “school mode” mentality once I graduate. I need to begin thinking about what to do with the rest of my life. My mentor teacher keeps telling me she wants me to come back, and I have another friend who works in a different school district who is encouraging me to apply at her school as an autism teacher. I also have a third friend who is encouraging me to apply at her school, as well. I really need to get a resume together over the Christmas break to put out there and see what types of opportunities present themselves.

Along with graduation and prior to actually holding my teaching certificate, I have to pass 5 state tests: 3 for special education and 2 for elementary education. I was planning to take all 5 in January (to give me plenty of time before graduation in May in case I don’t pass an exam and have to retake it) but after talking with a friend of mine who teaches at the high school where I’m teaching this semester, he suggested I take one at a time to help keep my focus. I think what I’ll do is take my special ed tests in January and my elementary ed tests in April. It’s a lot, but I do want to pass the first time since they cost around $100 per test. I am confident about passing the special ed portion- my classes this semester are definitely preparing me for passing them. I looked at sample questions and they are similar to what was covered on my midterm exams and what is found in the textbooks.

We are going to Jeannine’s wedding this afternoon. Th is very excited, but he’s also very tired! We were out late last night (I say late, but it was only 8:30pm) because I had Teagan’s pictures made. I can’t wait to get them- they turned out adorable! I’ll post them on here once I get the digital version.

TJ took Ta to Th’s soccer game with him this morning. Th has pictures before the game. I was going to go, but it’s a little chilly here this morning- too cold for Teagan to be out. Well, enough rambling. I hear T.G. playing in her crib so I guess she’s awake. I need to get her so she can eat breakfast. Have a great day and wonderful weekend!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Musings from a Mom of 4

I am struggling even more to find a balance between home and school. Teagan is such a great baby, and I really have no complaints about her. She sleeps well, waking to nurse every 3 hours. I try to time it so that she nurses around 10:30 or 11pm, and then every 3 hours after that. TJ gets the first feeding and I get the second. It gets difficult when she wakes around 5am because I wake up at 5:45am, and I usually finish nursing around 5:30am. Obviously those mornings are more difficult for me because I am waking 45 minutes earlier than I’m used to, but I overall I can’t complain. I am very thankful she takes a bottle and TJ is willing to get up with her, too. One day last week I let him sleep and took all of the feedings myself as a way to say thank you to him.

Because of my school load, TJ and I had to make a difficult decision about T.G. I really didn’t want to have to send her to preschool 5 mornings per week, but it was just too difficult for me to get anything done at home with her here. Last Wednesday I was trying to just get home-stuff done (i.e. laundry, some light cleaning) and it took forever because as soon as I sat down to nurse, she “helped” me by throwing the clothes I had just folded all over the floor, she was climbing all over the furniture in the playroom, and was just all around bored. She didn’t want to color, play with puzzles, or anything she normally loves to play with. Instead, she wanted to get into everything she shouldn’t. Since she’s learned to climb up on stuff, nothing is safe, even up high. I had all the bedroom doors shut so she couldn’t get into anything there, but she still managed to get into stuff that was put on the ledge upstairs. It made nursing more difficult and timely. It was like she knew I was preoccupied with Teagan and took advantage of the situation. I was forced to put her in her crib to play while I finished nursing the baby and refolded the laundry. Obviously she can’t spend her days in her crib so the best alternative was to send her to preschool where she’s with other children her age and I can focus on school/housework in the mornings. I miss her and feel guilty about my decision, but she is excited to go and was bored at home with me, especially since Teagan’s arrival. Her and I aren’t doing as much together as we were before Teagan's arrival. Plus, I always have the option of keeping T.G. home from school if I want to spend time with her (I just couldn’t send her one extra day per week- it doesn’t work that way. I have to send her T/TH because of my school schedule and I pay for M/W/F regardless of whether she attends or not. I hope that makes sense).

This week is crazy and I am glad T.G. is at school. I have 3 midterms plus I have to give a standardized-assessment to one of my students. The test takes an hour and a half to give and I am not really looking forward to giving it. But, it will be beneficial simply because of the experience it is providing me with. I am also teaching so I have to finish my lesson plans and assessment measures.

I am looking forward to this weekend because a friend of ours is getting married. The wedding is on Saturday and we are bringing Th (and Teagan, of course) with us. I am still searching for a babysitter so hopefully that will all work out. I want to attend simply out of support for my friend, who used to be our neighbor before she got engaged and moved to Charlotte! We have known her since we moved to our house, and she has always been a great friend from day one. The kids love her and still refer to her house as Ms. Jeannine’s house, even though she doesn’t live there anymore. Other than family members, Th has never been to a wedding so he is excited about going. He feels very grown-up. We’d take Ta but he’d probably get bored during the reception and we wouldn’t be able to stay as long as we’d like. So, he and T.G. are staying home.

Well, I’m off to study. I have 2 midterms today that I need to study for. Say a prayer for me that I have clarity of thought because at this point, everything is just jumbled together in my mind. . .

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pictures- At Last!

Here are the much anticipated pictures of Teagan that everyone's been emailing me about! :)

A close up of her beautiful face.

On the bilibed in the hospital. I affectionately call this her "space suit". Do you see the bright lights emanating from underneath her? It was literally like a tanning bed (except without the tan).

A close up in her space suit. Look at those cheeks! :)

One of Th's many birthday celebrations. This was for my benefit while I was in the hospital. My mom-in-law baked and brought cupcakes for us to celebrate.

She wasn't too happy about going home!

We were about to be wheeled out to the car. She calmed down and went to sleep.

Respect PSA

Being a Special Education teacher (almost!), you know I can't resist the opportunity to brag on some very special people to me. Although I do not know the people in the video personally, I think they represent those whom I do know very well. In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness month, please watch this PSA (public service announcement) that will be airing inside Wal-Marts throughout the nation. It was because of some wonderful athletes with Down Syndrome and other cognitive disabilities that I decided to devote my life to teaching those with mental retardation. I learned a lot from them, and hopefully, through this PSA, you will learn something, too.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

She's Free!

Teagan has been cleared of her jaundice diagnosis and I returned the bed yesterday. She slept great last night in her crib (I was a little concerned since she's been on the bilibed since birth). Her skin coloring looks great and I am enjoying just holding her, although I haven't seen her much today because of my school schedule. I am looking forward to getting home tonight; I miss her. :(

I taught today and overall it went well. Today isn't the first day I've taught, but it's the first time I've implemented my own lesson. My mentor teacher observed and critiqued me, and I have some things to reflect on to improve the lesson. I learned some things and am very happy that I had the opportunity to do so; some things can't be taught, only learned through experience. This is one of those things.

Well, I am headed to my last class of the day. I can't wait for 5pm to arrive- school's out!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jaundice Update

Teagan is doing better with her jaundice. Her levels were down on Friday but rather than taking her off the bilibed now and risking her levels rising again, the doc kept her on the lights through the weekend. I have to take her back tomorrow afternoon and will more than likely return the bed.

Yesterday and today have been the first we've been able to really hold her and love on her. Because of the jaundice, she had to be on the bed except for feedings. Thankfully she has taken a bottle fine (unlike T.G.) so TJ has been helping with feedings in the middle of the night. I have been nursing around 11ish, then he gets the 1ish feeding, and I get the 3 and 5ish feedings. But, since it was the weekend, I also got to sleep in until 8:30 so I don't really mind.

The bilibed has been a mixed blessing. Teagan is my first child who hasn't slept with us in the beginning. I have always had the baby in bed with us to make nursing in the middle of the night easier (I have a co-sleeper so it's safe for the baby to be with us). Since she couldn't be off the lights for long, she nurses and gets put back on them, meaning we sleep better because we don't have the co-sleeper in between us. She also doesn't have to be nursed back to sleep; I can put her down even if she's still awake. I hope she continues to be so content once we give the bed back!

Still no pictures- I have been crazy busy with school and writing papers and lesson plans. I am teaching full-time this week and I have to submit my lesson plans 2 days prior to implementing the lesson, meaning I had to have one finished today and another one finished by Tuesday. I also have some midterms next week (3 to be exact!) that I need to find time to study for. Life is just all around crazy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another update

We came home yesterday because Teagan's levels were below the 75th percentile. However, we took her back to the doctor today and she is now on photo-therapy at home because her levels have risen. It's the same type of bed as the one in the hospital, only we are at home instead of in-patient. She goes back for another re-check Friday morning. Hopefully she'll be better and we won't have to get more aggressive with her treatment. I know jaundice is common but I've never had to treat any of my kids like this, and they've all had it. It's a little scary because it's new, but I totally trust my doctor and her judgement.

*I am thankful to have a pediatrician that my family loves- mom and kids, both!*

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Teagan update

Just a quick update. . .

Teagan is jaundice and spent the past 24 hours on the "bilibed" to help get her levels down. She is being assessed by the doctor as I type this and is hopefully doing well enough that we'll be able to go home today. Although she has been nursing well, she has not passed enough stools to get the excess bilirubin out of her system.

Say a prayer that she is doing better today!

*I am thankful for the care and attention we've received while here.*

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Birthday!

6 years ago today I welcomed my firstborn into this world. A lot has changed in our family since then, but one constant has remained: my love for him.

Th is an amazing boy, full of laughter and joy and compassion for others, animals included. He is funny, caring, smart, and as best he can, living his life for the Lord. He is an excellent big brother and for the most part puts the needs of his siblings ahead of his own. I am so proud and thankful to be his mom!

Happy birthday, buddy! I love you!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

She's Here!!

Teagan Claire made her arrival at 2:48 this morning. She weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces and was 20 inches long. Like the others at birth, she too has dark hair and lots of it! Teagan is doing well, nursing about every 4 hours or so.

TJ and I took the kids on a walk yesterday to go visit our neighbor who lives behind us. She has lots of land and animals, a small farm of sorts. She recently added some ducks and chicks to her animal collection, and last week brought us some fresh eggs, one of which was green. She invited us to come by and see the hen house where the chicks live.

While we were walking, I began to have some contractions. Nothing major, but they were there none the less. By the time we arrived at my neighbor’s house (we took the long way there so the kids could ride their bikes and burn up some steam), I was tired and the pressure from my belly was getting to be too much. We took the shortcut home (which is just through our backyard) and once I sat down, I was okay.

We lit a campfire and roasted marshmallows before bringing the kids in to get ready for bed. I was still having contractions, but again, nothing major or overly concerning. I bathed T.G., then Th took a shower, and TJ gave Ta a bath while I dressed T.G. None of the kids had good naps yesterday so T.G. went to bed at 7:45pm. The boys followed shortly behind her, with Ta finally falling asleep about 8:30pm.

I went downstairs to do some schoolwork and study for a mid-term exam I have on Tuesday. I tried to concentrate but the contractions were becoming more painful (like menstrual cramps in my lower abdomen). TJ was sitting outside by the campfire again so I told him I was going to take a bath because I wasn’t feeling well. He knew what I meant and brought me the phone in case I needed him while I was in the bath (isn’t he sweet?). I tried to relax in the tub but my schoolwork was weighing on my mind so I made it a short bath, only about 15 minutes.

Once I got out, I did feel a little better and was able to begin studying. It was probably around 9:30pm or so at this point. At about 10:20pm, I told TJ he should start timing the contractions because they were more painful and lasting about 45 seconds each. Of course, as soon as I said that, he went into panic mode and rather waiting to see if a pattern was established, he immediately suggested I call someone to come over to stay with the kids. I assured him I was okay for now and that before I could call the doctor, I needed to find out how far apart the contractions were. As usual, they were erratic. I had one 4 minutes after I initially told TJ to begin timing then, but then it was 10 minutes until the one after that. Finally, at 11pm, I told TJ I was just going to bed and would see what happened.

I lay in bed for about 15 minutes trying to fall asleep, but with each contraction, I was jarred wide awake (not that I was sleeping, but dozing). I decided I had better call someone while it was still fairly early. I did, and thankfully I didn’t wake my friend up (she had been at the Clemson game all day and had recently arrived home). I also phoned the doctor who told me to come in for observation. By the time I had my things together, my friend arrived and I went over the schedule/phone number list, and we got to the hospital, it was a few minutes past midnight.

The nurse checked me upon arrival and I was 3 centimeters. TJ and I were sent to walk the halls of the hospital for the next hour. Let me just put it this way: by the time the hour ended, I could barely stand with each contraction, and they were coming regularly about 3-5 minutes apart. When the nurse checked me again, I had made it to the magic number of 4cm (the number I had to get to in order to be admitted) so I was immediately relieved. Once I got settled in a permanent room, I was permitted to relax in the Jacuzzi tub. I got in the tub about 1:45am. About 30 minutes later, I had TJ get the nurse and I requested an epidural (I have had my last 2 deliveries natural, but this time, the pain was much more intense). She came in and helped me get out of the tub, checked my cervix, and informed me I was too late. In the 30 minutes I was in the bath, I had dilated to 8.5 cm! She paged the doctor, my water bag was broken, and Teagan entered the world on my second push. Since TJ and I did not have a name immediately upon her birth, the doctor joked that we should name her “Bullet” because of her speedy arrival. She was born about 2 ½ hours of us arriving at the hospital- crazy!

Overall I am happy I once again did it without any medication because the recovery is SOOOO much better. Yes, it’s extremely painful during labor, but once the baby is out, I am virtually pain free. With the epidural and other medication, there are side effects that cause drowsiness and require a person to need assistance to get up, walk, potty, etc. I am self-sufficient and was able to go off the IV once my bag of fluid was empty.

Below are some pictures of my sweet baby girl. T.G. is already in love, as is Ta. Th is just excited and overwhelmed about the whole situation, so I’m not really sure what he thinks of her specifically. Plus, with her birthday so close to his, he thinks that’s neat too.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Decision

At this point I am not going to be induced. I have been praying about and reading Scripture to try and get peace about the situation. Yesterday during my Bible reading, the Lord brought this verse my way: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8). I really feel like the Lord has been trying to teach me patience these last few weeks, and this verse confirms my thinking. I don't know what the Lord has in store for me or this baby, and I don't want to risk jeopardizing any blessings by trying to take control of a situation that is not up to me to control. As much as I am a planner and take-charge type person, for once I am going to let God be God while I wait patiently for His perfect will to be done.

*I am thankful, as always, for the opportunity to read and study my Bible.*

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Baby Shower. . . at School

Tonight during my evening class my professor and classmates surprised me by throwing a baby shower, with a beautiful cake, drinks, chips, and of course gifts. It was so shocking and much appreciated. There are only 4 other students in the class besides me, so it was an intimate group and I just can't thank the girls enough. They are so sweet and, especially because they are all in their early 20s, I know the financial sacrifice they had to make in order to do this for me. I called TJ during my break to tell him what they did, and I smiled the entire class period (from 5-8pm).

Here is a picture of the cake- isn't it beautiful?!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Progress, I guess

I went back to the doctor today. My cervix is "ripe and ready to go" as the doc so eloquently phrased it! The only problem? I'm still not dilating and probably won't anymore until labor starts. This is the complete opposite of my pregnancy with T.G. With her, I was dilating but my cervix wasn't ripening. I was going to be sent home from the hospital at 5cm because my cervix wasn't thinning out as quickly as the doctor thought it should be. Thankfully a very nice nurse let us stay the night because T.G. was born about 2 hours after that! Anyway, the doctor did say I was an excellent candidate to be induced if I choose to do so. I don't know what to think about that- I've never had to face that decision before! LOL!

If I do decide to be induced, it won't be for 2 more weeks because the earliest the practice is comfortable inducing is at 39 weeks. Can you imagine me pregnant at 39 weeks? I surely can't!! I am torn on what to do because part of me feels like, by being induced, I am trying to take control and "be God." The other part of me feels like it would be a good idea because then I could prearrange childcare for the kids and not have to worry about who's coming and when and for how long. I have to make my decision by next week so the doctor's office can schedule it with the hospital. Lots of praying for me in this next week!

School is going well. I've been teaching here and there, although next week I am full-fledged teaching and being observed. I am doing a lesson that integrates health, math, reading, and functional skills like cooking and shopping. Can you guess what I'm doing? We're going to be cooking a fruit pizza, but first, we'll talk about how the ingredients are part of a healthy diet and review the Food Guide Pyramid. I'm excited, but overwhelmed. I have to have my lesson written out in a certain format that is VERY time consuming and not very practical. But, it's what the college wants and my grade is based on it so of course I'll do it. On top of writing this lesson, I have to conduct an interview with the mom of one of my students that will take about an hour to an hour and a half in order to determine her learning goals for him. The interview covers all aspects of living from academic to social to communication to functional and so on. It's very inclusive (as it should be) but again, time consuming. I then have to write a report based on my findings and determine the correct placement and goals for the next year for him. Plus, I have a midterm exam on Tuesday that I need to find time to study for. Yeah, school is great!

*I am thankful I will be DONE with school for good in a few months!*

Monday, September 15, 2008

Party Pictures

Th’s party was fun. He had a good time being silly with his friends. Below are a few pictures from the day. Oh, by the way, TJ pulled Th’s tooth so I have been joking with him about brushing his holes. He thinks it’s hilarious, and this morning he came in and said, “Mom, I brushed my holes already.”

Still no baby. I am honestly shocked. A few weeks ago, I was having such strong, hard contractions and in the past week, they have been few and far between. I guess Taco is happy where he/she is and will arrive in his/her own time. I also think the Lord is trying to teach me patience because I am getting very impatient. My hips and joints are killing me and it is painful to walk. I thought that taking a stretching class with my students would help, and it has, but the relief is temporary. I also thought the stretching would get things going with labor, but that hasn’t happened, either! LOL! I have been trying lots of “natural” things to start labor (i.e. eating spicy foods, lots of walking), but so far nothing has worked. I go back to the doctor on Wednesday so hopefully I’ll have made some more progress.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's Over

My speech went well, and I was surprised at the turnout. There were about 150 people in attendance. I was the second speaker, and was scheduled to speak after lunch. I finished my meal and excused myself to the restroom. On the way back into the room, I quickly phoned TJ and he prayed with me to help calm my nerves. As soon as I opened the doors to the dining room, all eyes were on me- it was my turn! I promise you I wasn’t out of the room for more than 5 minutes, but apparently the first speaker gave her speech as soon as soon as I left. I was so embarrassed!

At the end of the presentation, several people came up to me and congratulated me. It was nice to have the support of so many, especially because a few of them didn’t even know me. I even received an email from a current classmate this afternoon congratulating and thanking me for giving such an inspirational speech (I didn’t think it was very inspirational). It was also nice to see some former professors, classmates, and friends who, because of our crazy schedules, I haven’t seen in a while. And, because I’m such a perfectionist, I woke up last night replaying my speech in my head and the parts I would have done better. Crazy, I know. I just wish TJ could have been there with me for moral support and to meet/greet everyone afterwards. He has been such a huge support system for me that I realize I couldn’t have gotten this far without his help. My success is his success, and I want others to know that. There is no way I could have completed my degree on my own; it is by the grace of God and TJ’s support that have helped me to achieve my goals.

Changing gears, Th has his birthday party today. He is very excited and was up at 6:15am (although that’s what time he wakes every day). We were able to get a sitter for T.G. so TJ and I can enjoy the party without having to entertain her.

Again switching topics, I went back to the doctor last Wednesday. I am still dilated the same (2+ cm) but my cervix is 50% effaced (changed from 20% last week) so he thinks it will be sometime before this next Wednesday. I hope so! I am so ready to bring this baby home and establish a routine. Currently, I have to plan every day as if I’m not returning at night. I have to make sure all the details are handled to make it easier for TJ and/or a sitter. It requires lots of planning and preparing, and it is tiring. Plus, I am trying to keep the house picked up so that when I do spend time in the hospital, hopefully things won’t be too messed up when I get home. Hey, a girl can dream, right? Along with all of the preparing, I still have tons of schoolwork. I am looking forward to spending time in the hospital simply to catch up on reading many chapters from various textbooks.

It’s time to get my day going. I need to get things together for the sitter for T.G., shower, and pick up around here. I’ll try and post pictures from the party later this afternoon.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Speech! Speech! Speech!

Below is the draft I submitted for my speech. Hopefully I won't have to make too many changes!

We all have many names. T. is the one given to me at birth from my parents. Other names include: sister, friend, student, Coach, and my personal favorites, wife and mom. You may be wondering what being a wife and mother of 3 ½ small children have to do with taking classes here at (insert college name). To be quite honest, my husband and children have greatly influenced my decision to pursue my education.

In high school, I applied for and received a full scholarship to attend a local university upon graduation. For personal reasons, I declined the scholarship and instead enlisted in the United States Air Force as an airplane mechanic. To say my family was upset with my decision is an understatement! The September following my high school graduation, I left small town Ohio and headed to Texas for Basic Training, then shortly thereafter I was stationed in California.
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher from a young age. However, it wasn’t until I volunteered with Special Olympics while I was still in high school that I knew I wanted to teach special education. I actually began taking college courses while a senior in high school, but once I left home and joined the Air Force, my college career was put on hold.

I met my husband while in the Air Force, and after we had been married for a little more than 3 years, we welcomed our first child into the world. It was then that the name “teacher” took a more significant role in my life. Prior to having my own children, I did not fully grasp the responsibility that goes along with being a teacher. I understood the importance of being a positive role model, but it was a limited knowledge since I did not have first-hand experience. My son changed all that!

Once I had my own children, I realized the responsibility I had as their mother. Not just in their physical well-being, but in all aspects of their development: social, emotional, spiritual, and educational. If I want my children to grow into responsible adults, I need to model it for them now. There’s an old adage, “Do what I say, not what I do” that many of us have heard and perhaps even said to others. But, we know as educators, that is not the case. Children will emulate what we do because they look up to us and want to be like us; it’s only natural. I want my children to value their education, so of course that means I need to show them the value in education. I really had no choice BUT to go back to school!

Like many other nontraditional students, it has taken me several years to complete this degree in special education. By receiving these scholarships, some of the financial burden that goes with taking courses has been eased. We are grateful for the many opportunities to share our insight as nontraditional students afforded to us from some of our professors, especially those in the COE. And, because of the support received from family, and of course the professors at (insert college name), we will be graduating soon. In graduating, we are modeling many important skills for our children, whether they are in our classrooms or in our homes: the necessity of finishing what one starts; the link between hard work, determination, and success; and to never give up despite the obstacles and challenges that are presented.

Soon, we will be all able to add teacher to our list of names, and that is one that we will hold dear because of the sweat equity that was put into earning it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

More on my plate. . .

I received this email request today from a pretty important person on campus. I am honored, but flipping out at the same time. Read below.

I know that you plan to attend the Scholarship Luncheon this Friday, and we would like to have you speak on behalf of your fellow students to express appreciation to our donors. You could tell a bit about yourself and your own situation (as much as you choose) to demonstrate the need for such scholarship support. You will be one of two students speaking to the group, and between the two, you would be in a good place to represent the needs of those who are nontraditional students with family responsibilities, jobs, etc.

We hope you will agree to take this on--folks in the college are very proud of you and all that you accomplish.

How can I say no? Now I am working on a speech so I can turn in a draft by Wednesday morning. On a different note, my bulletin board that is due by Thursday has a little flexibility because of some circumstances out of my control, and I have everything I need for it, I just need to get it displayed. I think I will feel better about my school situation after tomorrow when I can talk to both my mentor teacher and college professor to get answers to my questions and more guidance on the lessons and assessments I have to conduct over the next 2 weeks. Things seem brighter compared to last Friday, but at the same time, I'm not out of the woods yet.

On a personal note, Th has another loose tooth! He has been begging TJ to pull it out for him, but it's not ready. However, the Tooth Fairy will be visiting again soon, and Th can't wait!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Stressed, overwhelmed, and emotional. . .

are probably the best words to describe how I am feeling lately. In all honesty, I have never felt any of these emotions to the extent that I have been feeling since yesterday. Balancing my home life and school has always been challenging, but never like this. I am second-guessing myself in every decision I make, taking me on even more of an emotional roller coaster. For instance, I needed to clean the house as I haven’t done it in 2 weeks. I decided to begin last night, and I finished up this morning. I worked my behind off to get almost everything clean. But, because of my decision to clean, I put off doing my school work until this afternoon. I regret that decision now.

I spent the afternoon trying to figure out where to begin, and with each assignment I started, I can’t finish because I either need more information from my students or from my teacher. Plus I received an email today informing me that I have less than 2 weeks to prepare and teach my students a 30-45 minute lesson. Not only that, but I am going to be observed and graded on how well I do. No problem, except that I have other assessments/lessons/parent interviews/student evaluations I have to complete in the same time frame. On top of all that, at some point I will have to spend time away from school in the hospital delivering a baby. I am trying to get ahead so that when delivery day comes, I won’t feel so overwhelmed. My plan is not working so great!

This semester I just can’t seem to balance my duties as a wife, mom, and student like I have in the past, and that is where the emotional part comes in. I feel like since I can’t find that balance, everything is suffering, and it makes me cry. I hate feeling like a bad mom, a bad wife, and a bad student, but nothing I do seems to make things better. I tried to convey some of these feelings to TJ, but he doesn’t fully understand because he’s never been in my shoes before; I’ve never been in these shoes before, and they are very lonely shoes. I didn’t know it was going to be so hard. I don’t know if it’s because I am taking more classes or if the fact that, in past semesters, I always had at least 2 ½ hours of uninterrupted time to study while the kids were in preschool. This semester, that’s not the case. They are in preschool but I always have at least one child home with me, which is why I decided to clean this morning rather than do school assignments (I am the type of person who needs absolute SILENCE to concentrate. I am easily distracted by noise, so even the sound of a child quietly playing keeps my focus off my schoolwork. I have to read and re-read in order to comprehend something when I am distracted.) Also, by having at least one child in tow, it makes it difficult for me to go to school to work on assignments. I have copies that I need to make and stuff I need to print, but I can’t show up in the computer lab with my kids- it’s just not good etiquette! I have an assignment due by 5pm Thursday where I have to design a bulletin board related to health education. I was hoping to go do that this afternoon but for various reasons, it didn’t work out. I was able to purchase some of the supplies that I need for it this evening, but how am I going to show up in a classroom with a 22-month-old to put up the bulletin board? I can’t! My only option is to stay after my class on Monday night to do it, but it stinks because I don’t get out of class until 8pm and where my bulletin board is being displayed is on the other side of campus.

The only comfort I have in all of this is that it is temporary- 1 semester. By the grace of God, I just need to get through this 1 semester. . . That is my prayer, and has been for the past couple of days.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Warning- Long Post!

My first day in the school was AWESOME! My mentor teacher is great, the students are wonderful, and I am so thankful the Lord put me in this particular room in this particular school.

Back in the spring, when the college was giving me some difficulties about registering/taking classes this fall, I was told I would be placed in a school local to my home. However, when I received my placement letter in early August, I was placed in another town about 25 minutes away. Another girl in my class was placed at a school literally less than 1 mile from my house, and TJ suggested I look into switching with her. I am so glad that I didn't! I told him that the Lord was in control and He allowed this placement to happen the way it did (and TJ knew that, he is just thinking about my upcoming labor).

When I returned to college Tuesday afternoon for my class, we had a support session to talk about/discuss our classroom placements and how the first day went. There are only 8 students in the class, so we are a small group and most of us have been in class together for several semesters. Since we know each other, we are able to talk freely about our experiences and learn from them, which is (one of) the purpose(s) of the course. Anyway, most of my classmates either did not have a good first day OR they do not care for their mentor teacher and how s/he handled certain situations.

I, on the other hand, had a wonderful day and I can't wait to return again tomorrow. My class is made of 5 students who are considered to have a severe mental disability. Working directly next door to my teacher is a friend of mine who I went to college with. He graduated this past May and got hired on in the school. He worked with the same mentor teacher last year, and he has been a huge support for me since he so recently was in my shoes. Plus, he is my age and our kids are similar in age, and he went to school with some people from my church, so we have a lot in common. I haven't seen him in about a year because of our school schedules, so I was excited to see him yesterday. Digressing again. . .

My teacher has an awesome philosophy of education, and it is one that I share (which I think was a factor in my placement because I had to write my philosophy of education and provide 2 copies with my field placement application). She does minimal classroom instruction and maximum community-based learning, meaning everything she teaches the students has a real-life application and purpose. We (the students, my mentor teacher, and I) spent 2 hours yesterday morning delivering a community newsletter to local businesses. It was amazing to see the students working together to count out the number of newsletters to be delivered to each business, one student took the old ones and another put in the new ones. My mentor teacher has an assistant who has been out with back problems. The assistant usually drives the van for the delivery route, but since she was gone, my mentor teacher has been doing the driving. One of the students had to give my teacher the directions because she didn't know it. I was so impressed! He knew the entire route, including turns, all by memory. My teacher is hoping that he will be hired to deliver the newsletters once he graduates next May.

The students also clean rooms at a local motel twice per week. Again, the goal is to train the students so that they can become self-sufficient and do it independently. Once they can, they can potentially get hired and the motel can have confidence in their abilities. Next week the class is riding the light rail line into Charlotte for lunch. My teacher gave me a calendar and invited me to join them on any/all outings I'd like to attend. Once I have the baby, I plan to participate more with the class outside of my normal Tuesday/Thursday schedule because I want to learn as much as I can from my mentor teacher regarding community-based instruction (CBI).

CBI is not a new concept but it is not widely practiced. It takes more long-term planning and creativity than regular instruction. Plus, safety is of course an issue, and some teachers simply are not comfortable leaving school grounds alone with their students. Here is an example of what a classmate saw on her first day at a different school in a different district: the teacher threw some brightly colored bean bags to a boy in a wheelchair who is legally blind but can see color. He scooted out of his wheelchair, got the bean bags, and threw them in a bucket. What is the purpose in that? How will that help him get a job? Be independent? Where is the functionality in that skill? Now, I realize not all people with disabilities can live independently or function fully in society. But, the bean bag toss is also not age appropriate. This student is in high school, not in kindergarten. If the purpose is to help him recognize his colors, there are other ways to do so. I guess that is just my philosophy coming through- education should be functional and age-appropriate. I don't want my kindergarten-age son learning material that is for a high school student, and vice-versa, regardless of ability. To me it is common sense but to others, it's a whole new ideal and one that is not highly regarded. Again, it takes creativity and planning and teaching has enough demands without all that.

Enough of my soap box. I am just so grateful for where I am and excited to be going back. The students embraced me and I am sad that I'll only be with them until Christmas. The semester is going to go by quickly despite all the many assignments and lessons that I have to complete.

Oh, I have to teach a unit consisting of 5 lessons to the students. Any ideas on a topic? I want it to be community-based so I'm looking for something that has a real-life purpose and application. I was thinking of "How to Get a Job" and I could do a lesson on deciding on a place to work, a lesson on applying for the job (filling out the application), a lesson on the interview, etc. What do you think?

*I am thankful for the Lord's divine knowledge regarding this field placement. What an answer to prayer!*

Monday, September 1, 2008

High School Again

Tomorrow is my big day- my first day of student teaching. Well, I'm not actually teaching tomorrow but I go and meet my mentor teacher and the students in the class. I will begin actual instruction next week. The only information I received from my mentor teacher is that the kids are in grades 10-12 and they do a lot of community-based instruction (i.e. how to make a purchase in a store, how to use public transportation, how to cross the road safely, etc.) I am excited about that, but at the same time, it makes lesson planning difficult for me because, for my college courses, I have to focus on academic instruction (i.e. literacy, assessment, etc.) But, I'll figure it out somehow- I always do.

Tuesdays are long days for me. I leave the house around 7:15am and don't get home until after 5pm. I will only see Ta and T.G. for about 20 minutes (I pick them up at noon and deliver them to TJ at 12:20pm so I can get to my next class). I'm a little bit nervous about being away from the kids for so long, but it's only crazy on Tuesdays so that eases my mind a little. I just miss them when I am away from them, especially for such long periods of time. It's been a huge adjustment with Th in school all day. I often find myself wondering what he's doing at a particular time or if he's having a good day. I enjoy the few minutes we have alone when he first arrives home from school. I like to hear about his day and just sit and cuddle with him before I have to start my afternoon chores (i.e. getting snacks for the kids, getting supper put together, going through the mail, making lunch for the next day, picking up toys/shoes/clutter, etc.)

Well, I'm headed to bed so I can be well-rested for my first day. Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hospital Stay

I haven’t updated since Monday (as you can tell!) because life has been, well, life.

I began school Tuesday. I don’t start my student teaching until next week so I only had classes in the afternoon. While sitting in my first class, I began to have some contractions. Then they were accompanied by cramps, and they were not stopping as the afternoon went on. By the time I got home at 5pm, they were coming closer together and becoming more uncomfortable. I was supposed to attend a lecture series Tuesday evening, but I did not feel well. I told TJ that I was staying home and calling the doctor.

My contractions have never been regular with any of my labors, so of course when the doctor called back an hour later, I could only tell him I was having more than 6 per hour. He thought it was best for me to go to the hospital, so I *tried* to get TJ to move a little faster at putting the boys to bed (it was after 8pm at this point). T.G. was in bed, although not sleeping, but at least she wasn’t crying. While he was finishing up with the boys, I began going down my list of people to call to help with childcare, all of whom are from our church.

The first person I called had sprained her ankle that day and could not walk. No, I didn’t think it was a good idea for her to come here with having to walk up steps and such. The next person on my list I couldn’t reach. I called her house and was told she may be at work (she works a second job at a pottery studio). I called the third person on my list and she was available. I hated to have her come because it was storming so badly outside and she lives across town, but at that point I really needed to get to the hospital and didn’t want to have to go alone or with all of my kids. She agreed to come right away (I am so thankful!)

I went back upstairs to relay the plan to TJ and again talk him into speeding up the bedtime process (they were watching video clips on his laptop- ugh!). I finished getting my bag together and such, and made sure everything was ready to go for Th for school in case I ended up staying. TJ came down and a few minutes later the sitter arrived. Of course, Ta was not asleep (if you know Ta, he is not my best sleeper) so we ended up taking him with us because he was upstairs throwing a fit. Th had fallen asleep already and T.G. was still making some noises but not crying or anything like that.

When we got to the hospital I was put in the triage room for observation. I was hooked up to the monitors and then asked some questions. About an hour later the nurse checked me and I was a little more than 1cm dilated. I was monitored longer and of course my contractions were still very irregular. At about 10pm I was given some water to drink to see if the contractions were due to dehydration. I had to drink 1 liter in 30 minutes. I did, and they didn’t slow any. The nurse came back about 11pm and said that I was staying the night and going to be given an IV for fluids, along with some medication for pain so I could sleep. I was transferred to a room about midnight, and hooked up to the IV line. As soon as the nurse gave me the pain medicine, I was asleep in a matter of a minute or two.

The contractions were still coming very hard and strong, waking me from my sleep periodically. I don’t remember (because of the medicine) what time they finally slowed down, but when I woke at 6am, they were still coming but not nearly as strong or as often as they were the night before. TJ and Ta were sleeping on the couch, so I woke him so he could go home to get Th ready for school, etc. At 8am the doctor came in and checked me, and I was dilated 2cm plus a little more, so I hadn’t made any real progress (it took all night to dilate from 1+cm to 2+cm) so I was able to come home.

But, I was told that more than likely since I keep having contractions with cramping, that with each “episode” I am dilating more and more. So, I asked how I know when to come back to the hospital. The response- when the contractions are so hard/often (which is why I called the doc the night before in the first place!); I feel the urge to push; or my water breaks. I am praying my water will break because with my history of irregularly-timed contractions, they make it difficult for me to know “real” labor vs. “false” labor and once I feel the urge to push, the baby is literally only minutes away from being born and I honestly don’t think I’d make it to the hospital in time (I barely did with Ta!).

There have been some ramifications from our kids by us going to the hospital. Th slept the entire night so the only way he knew I was there was when I wasn’t awake in the morning to take him to school. I found out Thursday night when I was putting the boys to bed that Th woke up Wednesday night and came in my room to check on me. He woke up and was worried that I wasn’t there again. I asked him what he was going to do if I had been gone, and he said he’d go downstairs and call me using the phone number list that I leave out for babysitters (how sweet!). Last night he said he was worried about me because he didn’t see me in bed when he woke up (I was in the shower) so he asked TJ about my whereabouts. He is adamant about coming to the hospital with us next time, and I told him if he didn’t have school the next day, that I would think about bringing him.

I had some more long, hard contractions with cramping last evening that lasted for about 3 hours. TJ joked with me that if my water didn’t break so I knew definitively to go to the hospital, he was more than likely going to end up delivering this baby at home since this baby has not followed all the other usual signs of labor for me. I think I am going to buy a “Survivor’s Guide to Child Birth” book for him as a baby gift; I have a feeling he’s going to need it!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A New Addition. . . or Two

Again I’ve fallen behind on my postings. So sorry about that, but life with 3 small kids (and 1 on the way!) keeps me busy and on the move.

A lot has happened since Th began school last Wednesday morning. TJ came home with a cat Wednesday night, and that alone has been an adjustment. He (the cat) is 2 years old and really sweet. His name is Rainbow, and his prior owner (a 6 year old girl) must have really wanted a female cat because all of Rainbow’s accessories (cat bed, toys, etc) are pink and flowered. Rainbow is orange with cinnamon swirls on his sides- a really unusual pattern. He came neutered and declawed, and with all his gear, which is why TJ decided to bring him home. We’ve wanted a cat since last spring, but didn’t want to have to pay to have one spayed/neutered or declawed. So, when this opportunity presented itself, TJ couldn’t pass it up. The little girl was allergic to him and despite trying to ignore the symptoms, they were getting to be too much for her to handle. She lives just down the street from TJ’s work so we can bring him by for visits! :)

In other news, we bought another van. We weren’t exactly planning to make a vehicle purchase now, and in fact have been saving our money to use as a down payment on land. We enlisted the help of a friend of ours from church who is a realtor, and found some properties we are/were really interested in. One is a 5-acre tract, another is a 2-acre tract with a pond, and the third is 2.34-acres with a creek on 2 sides. We have been searching and searching and narrowed it down to these, and was close to making a decision (and an offer) before the Lord intervened and directed us to the vehicle path.

With my school schedule, TJ is going to have to take the kids to school 2 mornings per week, meaning I would have to use his car. His car works okay, he keeps it in excellent running condition, but because of its age, it still has some problems. He didn’t like the idea of me being pregnant, in another town, and out in the country, all alone in his car. If something were to happen, I’d be stuck! So, we decided to use some of our savings (that we were going to use towards the land purchase) to invest in a newer vehicle that would accommodate our growing family. He bought a Ford Windstar through auction and got an awesome deal! We shopped around locally before deciding to move forward with this particular vehicle, and we had difficulty finding something in our price range that had low mileage and was in good running condition. The Lord brought this auction our way, and it has turned out great.

We purchased the vehicle Wednesday night, too, and picked it up Thursday evening. TJ brought it to his mechanic on Friday and was told it has been well cared for. TJ spent the weekend cleaning it up and installing car seats, and then cleaned out my van, as well. It is so nice to have a choice in vehicles to drive and now that we bought some more car seats, we don’t have to worry about swapping them or switching vehicles or anything. What a relief!

I did some preparing this weekend trying to get my house in order before school begins tomorrow. I cleaned some, I washed clothes and bedding and cleared up clutter that has been neglected for some time. Friday evening I began to have contractions (that’s nothing new!) only they were different in that I had cramping with them. I’ve had them all weekend, and at my doctor appointment today, he checked me and I am dilated to 1cm already. He really doesn’t think I’ll go past 36 weeks, if I go that far at all. My cervix is still normal, but I have to go back next week instead of the week after so I can be checked again. It was the same doctor who delivered T.G., and I am glad that he is acknowledging the fact that I won’t go to my due date because when I went into labor with T.G., he didn’t believe that I was in labor and was going to send me home when I was dilated to 5cm since I was only 35 weeks along!

It’s nap time now (my last one until the semester ends) so no pictures of Rainbow just yet. School begins tomorrow for me and I have a busy agenda so I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to post again. Say a prayer for Taco as I am a little nervous about the overall health of the baby if I deliver in the next couple of weeks. The doc gave me some statistics and we talked about what would happen upon delivery before 36 weeks, and I feel better knowing what to expect; but, of course, that was all best-case scenarios. I am still scared about lung development (I asked about brain development and he said there was no cognitive difference between a baby born at 34 weeks and one born at 39 weeks) and that more than likely, the only reason Taco would be in the NICU is to gain some weight. I am trying my best to obey Prov. 3:5 “trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding”, but it’s so difficult. . .