Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's over

Just as quickly as the snow came, it was gone. We had very little, but school was cancelled nonetheless. I was grateful, though, because it was another day for me to catch up on some housework. Now that I am gone all day, my normal “chores” are put on hold until the weekend, meaning the weekends are now jam-packed with housework, planning lessons, and completing university assignments. I have honestly never been so tired in my life! Well, actually, Basic Training was pretty comparable in that I rarely slept!

I have been thinking long and hard about my life, about TJ’s life, this past week. I don’t really know why. Perhaps because of my recent birthday. I just know we had a conversation (well, several times we’ve had this conversation) and I keep thinking about how true it is. We often talk about the Air Force, and when we meet people for the first time or when it somehow comes out in conversation that we met while in the AF, people are really shocked. I don’t know why- it doesn’t seem that shocking to me. But anyway, I am usually asked a question or two about why I joined or what made me join- something along those lines.

The truth is, for both of us, it was our escape. I don’t’ mean in an unbiblical way like we were running from someone or something, but more of a fresh start, a new life. Speaking for myself, my life was turned upside down in Dec. 1995, and everyday was a constant reminder of my horrible action and its resulting consequence. I had to live and relive memories that I no longer wanted, and in my mind, I had no other option but to get out of town. I was determined that I was not going to live my life in constant turmoil or grief, at least outwardly. Inside is a different story. . .

For TJ, I think he, too, wanted to start anew, and the AF was his way of doing that. He had recently moved down South from NY, so that in itself was a new start, but perhaps it wasn’t enough. I don’t know- I can’t really say for him. I just know that we both joined because we both knew we needed to get away from the grips of our past. So, I guess in a sense we were running from our pasts, but I do like to think of it more as a new, clean slate. We left that life for a reason, and to go back there is too painful, and to quote TJ, “The past is the past for a reason.” I couldn’t agree more!

Not really sure why this topic has been on my heart lately, but I felt the need to journal some in an attempt to sort out my thoughts. It’s been a while (at least I think it has) since I’ve really journaled on here, which is the reason I began to blog in the first place. I know I often blog about my daily (or weekly) musings, but this is the subject that has been on the forefront of my mind for some reason. Oh well, I’ve written it down and can now examine my own words in an effort to make some sense of them or find the meaning behind them. Sometimes what’s not said is more important than what is.

*I am thankful the Lord has been with me every step that I have taken in my life- both the big and little, the striking and mundane. He knows my heart, my intentions, and the plans He has for me. Jeremiah 29:11*

Friday, January 23, 2009

Shot to the heart

I really love my class, and although it’s only ending the second week, the students are already wiggling their way into my heart. They are each so special and offer so much to this world simply by being themselves. They each have their own personalities, and each day I spend with them, I learn about their interests, likes, and dislikes. They are so funny and remind me so much of my own kids, particularly the boys.

The kids come from varied home lives and I understand (or at least I think I do) how teachers get burnt out. All teachers have to accept and understand where their students are coming from, but it is imperative in the field of special education because the students require so much more support in order to be successful in school. To do that, we have to work directly with the parents. It’s hard, especially when the parents are struggling themselves. Some of these kids come from homes that are stressed beyond belief. There is one student in particular who has really been weighing heavy on my heart and mind. The student’s mom passed away last spring, and is now being raised by the child’s father. The father is unemployed and money is very tight to say the least. Home life is very stressful, being a single father, unemployed, and raising 2 children, one of whom has a significant disability. The child has autism and as a result, communication is limited. It is difficult to determine wants, needs, or desires because the child has difficulty expressing them. The result is a tantrum, which we had many today. But, in between the tantrums were many hugs and I will admit my eyes welled up with tears because the child cried out for “Mama” during 2 of the tantrums. It was so difficult to not let my emotions get the best of me, but my mentor teacher is great and she remained calm and firm and handled the situation with grace.

I am beginning instruction next week. I can’t believe I am being observed for my mid-term evaluation in a couple of weeks! I am very nervous. I am going to be teaching reading instruction through phonics. I learned an instructional strategy last semester and am now going to put it into practice. Reading instruction is my weakest area so I am nervous yet relieved at the chance to try it. I am not sure if I feel that way because of the amount of pressure that is put on teachers to teach students how to read, or if it is because I have had limited coursework, or perhaps a combination of the two. At any rate, it will be good for me to challenge myself. I feel like if I can successfully teach reading, then I can teach anything.

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's supposed to snow

And I have mixed feelings about that. The snow depresses me in some ways. It makes me think back to my "old" life, the life I left in Ohio all those years ago but yet can't seem to fully get away from. I know my past will always be a part of me, but lately I can't help but long to escape it. Perhaps it's because of tomorrow. Obama coming into power, and the world crumbling once that happens. Although I know it won't happen instantaneously, I do believe it will be quick. I grieve for those women who believe the lies being fed to them about women's rights, equality, and most importantly, abortion. Abortion destroyed my life and my baby's life. Oh how I wish things were different, at least in that aspect. It's times like this that I find myself in constant turmoil, eyes misty with tears and a heart tender to the Lord, begging for forgiveness yet again. When does it stop? When does the pain, guilt, and sense of loss go away?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Whadya think?

Do you like my new background? I like it- it represents me in so many ways. I love daisies, scrapbooking, and the color blue.

Let me know what you think.

Birthday

My birthday was great. Being 29 again hasn’t been too bad, granted it is only the 2nd day! For my birthday, TJ and the boys prepared breakfast in bed. I tried my best to ignore T.G.’s crying downstairs as he had her contained to her high chair so he could focus on the other boys. She was not very pleased with that arrangement, and she made sure the entire neighborhood knew how unhappy she was! But, breakfast was excellent and a wonderful start to a day full of laundry and picking up around the house.

My MIL and SIL came over about 4:30pm and TJ and I went out to celebrate my being 29 again. TJ is not the best when it comes to directions so I had to help him get to where we were going, but I didn’t know the name of it. Make sense? We pulled up to a restaurant called Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, a place I’ve never been to let alone heard of. We had a quiet dinner of steak, shrimp, lobster tail, and potatoes, and the food was good, although the company was better. TJ and I really don’t get much time alone together, so I enjoy spending time with him. Our dinner conversation was mostly him making fun of me for not being able to hear him, but oh well, it was full of laughter and giggles and was a memorable evening to say the least.

After dinner, we headed ice skating. Now, I must admit, having been a figure skater growing up (private lessons, 5:30am practices before school, competitions in other states), I was sort of surprised at how challenging I found it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t fall or anything like that, but there was definitely a fear factor for me, which surprised me. I think it’s my age! Plus, my skates are my professional skates from back in the day, and honestly, they kill my feet. They are so stiff (they have to be for purposes of jumping) that the thought of putting them on was enough to deter me, so I rented a pair of ice skates. I was shocked at the quality of the rental skates. They were the same as one of my first pairs of skates, Reidell, which is a high quality, name brand ice skate. I was impressed! Anyway, we skated for about an hour, holding hands (and holding on for dear life!) like teenagers in love before I was pooped and my feet were killing me. I had had enough youthfulness for one night- my age was catching up to me! LOL!

We left and went to a coffee shop where we sat and talked for a little while. I am always trying to plan out the future so I was bouncing ideas off of TJ, and he being the one to give me a dose of reality, made me think about the positive and negative of each option. I still did not reach a decision but have decided to pursue several options (well, I guess technically I did reach a decision) and pray that whichever one the Lord wills, I am open and prepared to fulfill.

On the way home, we rented the movie of the same title of the book I just finished, “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.” The movie is okay, but as usual, the book is much better. I am off to finish watching it. . .

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My new class

Today was the first day of my internship in the school. What can I say- I felt like I spent the day with my own kids!

There are 8 students, and it's amazing how similar children are. After lunch, one girl did not want to be in her stander (see image below) as she is getting used to being more independent. Obviously, when she's in her stander, she can't go anywhere, and that flat out made her mad. So she cried, then she screamed, and I felt like I was at home with my 2 year old! :)
Later, I worked with 2 other students on their math lesson. We were counting wooden rings, and as they counted one, they had to place it on a dowel. Again, I felt like I was at home working with my 3 year old. Their frustration levels are about the same. :)
After helping with their math, I helped some other students with their reading. I was read 3 books by a girl with Down Syndrome. She just recently began reading (like this week!) so she was thrilled to show off her skills. Once again, as I was sitting there listening to her, I was picturing Th doing the same thing as he is reading now and weekly has to learn new words and read new books as part of his homework.
Overall, it was a wonderful day, but I was able to experience first-hand the isolation a special ed teacher feels. We are physically in the school, but we are not "included" with the others. The regular teachers look at us as we walk down the hall, and while in the lunch line today, one student was upset with his lunch choice. He began to tantrum while in line and the regular ed teacher just stared as my mentor teacher and myself attempted to diffuse the situation and keep the line moving. On a side note, I don't know if I mentioned this or not, but my mentor teacher was a professor of mine last semester. We are very close in age and already have a close friendship. Anyway, as we walked back to the classroom after lunch, she shared with me about the school climate and the animosity felt among the teachers. I must say, it's really sad and it falls back on the principal. Administrators are the ones in charge of the school, and it's their responsibility to foster a spirit of cohesion and unity among teachers. Obviously at this school she has failed to do so, and the teachers are not the only one's who feel it, the students pick up on it, as well.
Well, it's time for me to get cookin'. TJ just called and he will be home soon. I need to have supper ready and served before he gets home.

Friday, January 9, 2009

I should be studying for my 2 huge exams tomorrow

. . . but I'm not. I have a cold, and as the day wears on, I seem to be feeling worse. My bones ache, my throat is scratchy, and I'm exhausted. Plus, I am reading a novel, something I haven't done since the summer of 2007. A friend of mine recommended it, and it's a tear-jerker! It's called "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards, and it's about a girl with down syndrome growing up in the late 60s early 70s, during a time when people with disabilities were still institutionalized at birth. It's really tugging at my heart-strings, and I want to finish it before Monday when the craziness of the semester starts up again.

I had Teagan at the doc today for a weight check, and I brought the book to read while I was waiting. The nurse saw it in Teagan's carrier when she called us back, and we began talking about it. The book was published in 2005, so it's not new, and I guess it's also a movie. The nurse said she read the book and saw the movie, and the movie was pretty true to the book. I think I'll see if I can rent it; the book is clean so hopefully the movie will be, as well.

Teagan, Teagan. What can I say about her? She is still just a wonderful, happy baby. . . but has stopped taking a bottle. As a result, she is not gaining enough weight. She only gained 4 ounces in 17 days, 1 pound in 5 weeks. That's not good. She's dropped from the 50th percentile to the 25th. She only wants to nurse, and with me beginning my student teaching and being away from her all day, I fear her weight gain is not going to improve much. I pray the Lord will intervene and she'll go back to taking a bottle. I have to now give her formula and rice cereal in the bottle to try and boost her caloric intake. We'll see how she does.

Well, I guess I should review my notes for my exams in the morning. Say a little prayer for me!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm so tired!

Well, I wasn't going to say anything until I knew with certainty, but the reason for my tiredness. . . NO! I'm not pregnant (I know that's what you were thinking!) There is something going on with my thyroid. All I know at this point is that my thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is out of whack. I have to go for an ultrasound of my thyroid, but because of my school schedule, I won't be able to go until spring break- which is in April.

I am part of the Veterans Healthcare System through the VA. They cover everything except maternity, so I have a local, private-practice OB/GYN. I also have a private-practice family doctor because the local VA out-patient clinics are so full, making it difficult to be seen when ill. The only other option is to drive to the Veterans hospital in Columbia, and I'd pay more in gas and drive time than to pay a $10 co-pay and prescription cost if seen locally at my private doctor. Anyway, I go see my VA provider twice a year simply for a routine check-up. Once a year she does a full blood panel, which coincidentally was scheduled for last Friday. I went, and the nurse called me at 8:30am Monday to inform me that I had to go back for more testing. So Teagan and I headed over there about 9:15am Monday morning to wait for more than an hour just to have 2 vials of blood drawn. The nurse called again early Tuesday morning and said I now need to have an ultrasound done at the VA hospital in Columbia because this last lab was still not right. The problem with having to go to Columbia: the clinic there closes at 4:30pm and they are closed on all federal holidays, meaning I can't go until spring break because I am not allowed to miss school since I'm the teacher.

So, until then, I am waiting. I am hoping it's not a big deal and hopefully I'll get some energy back. I am also glad it was found through the VA because I don't have to pay for any of the office visits (I'm not sure about the medication yet), and with TJ having to take a mandatory $2,800 pay cut to off-set the university's budget, we need all the extra money we can get!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year (a little late!)

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I have not been feeling myself lately. Extremely tired despite sleeping fairly well. Teagan pretty much sleeps through the night, only waking occasionally to nurse before 6am. Ta, on the other hand, wakes up every night and comes in our room, sometimes even wiggles his way in the bed with us. This has been happening since July, and we've tried everything. I can count on 1 hand the number of nights he's slept the entire night in his bed since then. At first I thought something was wrong with him, but now I know it's just habit. I had hoped to resolve it over my school break, but time slipped away from me.

Although I didn't accomplish all that I had hoped to, TJ and I did manage to get some major purging out of the way. The kids and I got rid of 3 boxes and 2 garbage bags full of toys, books, puzzles, games, etc. before Christmas, and the items that were in good condition we gave to a family in need. I do not know the family, but a friend of mine personally delivered them (3 boxes full)! At first the kids were not into going through their stuff, but once they understood the cause, they gladly donated items, even to the point that I had to put some of their toys back into the toy boxes because they were taking it to heart! We also went through clothes, closets, the shed, and the kitchen pantry. If you haven't seen my pantry, it's huge! The pantry alone took us an entire afternoon to go through. But, it looks awesome and we purged some major items! As an aside, TJ and I received a Tiffany & Co. cake plate as a wedding gift. Although beautiful, it doesn't have a cover so I don't use it. We moved it here from California, and it just sits on a shelf in my pantry. Anyway, I told TJ I wanted to sell it, thinking we could get about $40 or so on eBay. TJ objected, saying it was worth way more than that. I didn't believe him so we went to the Tiffany website. Lo and behold, the cake plate is worth $185! TJ was happy that he was right and I was just in shock. So, we decided to keep the plate since it is in pristine condition.

The kids went back to school today. I was able to go to an appointment and get the grocery shopping done while the little ones were at preschool. I took a short nap and then exercised (yes, you read that right- I exercised!). I am not sure what's going on with me but I do want to lose some weight and it's going to take effort on my part. I have my first 2 state exams this upcoming Saturday that I have been studying for. I am also trying to get my resume together as a local school district is having a job fair next month. I also began working on an assignment for my class that begins next Monday. I plan to clean the house this week while the kids are at preschool, and mentally prepare myself for my exams on Saturday. I have some more pictures from the past 2 weeks as the days of purging were interspersed with family fun, including bowling, roller skating, and birthday parties.