Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Blah's

I am so mentally and physically exhausted I cannot even begin to describe it. I have so many demands placed on me this semester that it is more taxing than anticipated. I wish my family and I could take a vacation and just get away. Alone. Away from school. Away from the house. Away from the chaos that seems to be never-ending. I think part of my frustration is that I am almost half way through the semester but I do not get a break like I normally would. I observe spring break this year at the same time as the school district. Good in that I will be home when my kids are home, but bad because I am finished with the semester one week later. Ugh. 6 more weeks to go until I get a break! I feel like the groundhog who just saw his shadow!

I am being observed a few times over the next 2 weeks. I hate being observed, particularly because this is my "mid-term evaluation" and I am graded, but I'll get through it. It just makes for more stress because I have to make sure my lesson plans are as close to perfect as possible and include as many aspects of teaching that I have ever been taught, you know, to meet the needs of all students. My mentor teacher wants to observe me teaching a whole-group lesson, and my university supervisor wants to observe me in small-group instruction. A nice variety, but totally different ways of writing lesson plans as they are totally different instructional methods. I have an idea for my small-group lesson, but I am struggling to think of something to do for next week during a whole-group lesson. I usually do "circle time" where we review the calendar, weather, letter/number of the week, morning message, etc. I could write a lesson plan about that, but that's more routine than anything. I don't know. Do you see why I'm stressed?

I am also stressed about the condition of my house. I feel like it's caving in around me. It needs to be cleaned, but before we can clean, we need to put stuff away. Plus, although it's only been a week, I am tired of having to shower in the kids' bathroom. I miss my shower! Thankfully I elicited the help of a friend of mine who is an interior designer. She and her family are coming over for supper next week to talk about the bathroom and the best way to go about re-doing everything. Better yet, she can help me pick out the colors and recommend the best options as far as not costing us too much money but will yield a profit if/when we decide to sell the house. TJ wants to change the direction in which we enter the shower and expand the length, which I think will involve building a wall- I'm not sure. That's where my friend's expertise will come in. She can develop a plan for us that includes materials, costs, and what exactly needs to be done. She seemed very excited to help and I'm just as excited for her to help- I need all the help I can get!

Teagan's appointment with BabyNet is this week. She will be evaluated to determine if services are needed. She has made some progress as she is now able to grab and hold items, but she's still not rolling over or able to sit up unassisted. We'll see what happens.

T.G. received her referral to the eye doctor for the end of March, but I had to reschedule her appointment for 2 weeks later, during spring break. I wanted to be able to attend the appointment with her and the doctor only sees new patients in the morning, during school hours. Any time I miss school, I have to make up the hours at the end of the semester, and I don't want to have to do that. As much as I love the students, I am ready to be done and graduated and in my own classroom!

Speaking of students, I have a challenging bunch. Daily I am hit, kicked, scratched, pinched, hair pulled, almost bit, and once I was punched in the shoulder. Did I mention I was feeling emotionally drained? It takes a lot of patience, self-control, and mental preparedness to stay one step ahead of the students. My mentor teacher and I are constantly thinking ahead to what the possible "set offs" could or will be. Sometimes we're wrong, most times we're right, and those are the times we are dealing with aggressive behaviors. It is exhausting! I literally spend my entire day with kids with the exception of when my kids are sleeping. I wake in the morning, shower, and then wake my kids to get them ready for school. I have a short commute to school alone (7 minutes), and then I spend the day with my students. I have a 7 minute ride home to re-gain my composure before I walk in the door and become "mom". It's tiring, draining, and taking a toll on my body. I am a stress eater and I have been consuming more chocolate this semester than perhaps all other semesters combined! Plus, the number of gray hairs on my head have doubled since I began student-teaching! :)

But, I have a learned so much from my students, more than I could have been taught in school, and I am thankful the Lord allowed me to have this opportunity. He has also used me to pass out some business cards for a local ministry that a woman in our church began a few years back. The more cards that I pass out, the more likely someone will find their way to her and as a result, hear the gospel or receive a much-needed blessing. I have to constantly pray to keep my heart tender to the Lord and His will in spite of my mental state of being. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He was fatigued in much the same way as I, yet He was able to resist. I, on the other hand, struggle daily, particularly with my own kids. By 6:30pm, I am ready for bed and ready for them to go to bed! Too bad they don't go to bed until 8pm! :-)

That's the short of what's been going on. There's more, but I don't do well with drama and try to avoid it at all costs. It does nothing except cause bitterness and negative attitudes because no one really knows the whole story. I learned in a bible study a few years back that all I can do is take people at face value- that what they say is what they mean. I can't read more or less into things because that allows my mind to wonder into areas it has no business going. My life is hectic enough without having to worry about other people's problems. The only thing I am required to do is maintain a right relationship with the Lord and, "if it be possible, as much as lies within me, live peaceably with all men." (Romans 12:18). That means ask for forgiveness when I've wronged another, keep out of the gossip circles, and do my part to show the love of Christ to others. I've been told that I am a good friend because I listen well and often try to look at the big picture, plus I am very analytical. I reflect on things a lot in order to learn and grow from both my mistakes and the mistakes of others.

Well, I guess I've written my novel for the week so I'm off to bed. Tomorrow will be 2 weeks in a row that we'll get to attend church as a family, and I am looking forward to it! I worked in the nursery last week so I missed the pastor's message, and we were sick the last 2 weeks, so I am happy that I will at last hear a sermon after being out for those reasons. We are blessed to have such a caring pastor and church and I know I've said it before, but if it weren't for the death of my baby in the form of a miscarriage, we would have never found our church or the support of its people. It's often said, "The Lord works in mysterious ways," and He truly does.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Potty, Pull-Ups, & Poop

I entered a contest to win a free package of Pull-Ups. Now, it's sort of ironic because I've been meaning to share some potty training *news* for a while but I simply haven't had the time. But, here it is in all it's glory.

Ta has been potty-trained for almost 2 years. He potty-trained himself pretty much because he refused to wear diapers. Considering he had just recently turned 2, I was shocked, especially because Th was over 3 before he was ready to potty-train. However, with Ta, he was only potty-trained to stay dry, and only recently (in the last 5 months) to stay dry during nap time. Once Teagan was born, I was determined to stop the insanity. I had 3 kids in diapers (granted Ta only wore them during sleep times, but still)! Once he was able to stay dry during nap time, I began to work on getting him to poop on the potty. He has always pooped once he woke from his nap; his schedule, not mine. So, even though he was able to wear underwear for his nap, once he awoke, he immediately requested a diaper so he could do his business. It was crazy!

I tried all the same *tricks* I tried with Th to get him to poop in the potty. It didn't work. Nothing did. Until I told him that I would show him the pool where his swim lessons would be held (this summer) if he went poop on the potty. That did the trick! He went poop on the potty fine! Now, he poops all the time on the toilet like a normal almost-4-year-old. No problem. Except at bedtime. He is still unable to stay dry. But, we switched to Pull-Ups (something I never used until Ta) because he thinks of them as underwear. Although he does wet them at least 3 times a week, the other 4 nights a week he is able to stay dry, and that is progress. When he wore a diaper, he was lazy and knew he didn't need to get up to go to the potty because he could just go in his diaper. TJ and I made such a huge deal about buying the Pull-Ups and wearing the Pull-Ups that he is devastated when he does have an accident. I am not worried about his bedtime pottying because I know it will come. I will admit he has been the easiest child to potty-train because it really required no effort on my part, so for him to be aware that he is wet in his Pull-Up is a good sign that it won't be much longer until he is able to hold it all night, every night.

Anyway, that's the *poop* on Ta! ;-)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

More Projects

Man, just when it seems an end is near, something else happens that requires attention and fixin'. TJ is nearing the end of our floor project (that began last May with purchasing the wood planks but that he didn't start until the day I went into labor with Teagan). Anyway, he has been diligently working on and off to get the baseboards back up and sealed and ready for paint. It has been a lot of work and an even longer project than anticipated, but well worth the effort.

However, as Murphy's Law has it, once this project ends he will immediately move on to our master bathroom, particularly the shower. It is going to be a major project as it involves ripping out the old shower, some plumbing, and tiling work, along with whatever else we decide to do since the bathroom will be in shambles anyway. Let me just say that this was not a planned project, especially because of the costs involved, but it has to be done.

Last week, on Thursday, I went into T.G.'s room after she woke from her nap. I was greeted by the worst smell on earth. Seriously. I searched for the source of the smell and found it, in the corner by her dresser. A doll my Nana made me for about 15 or so years ago was soaked. I thought Rainbow had perhaps inadvertently been locked in T.G.'s room and used the doll as his litter box. But, I had seen Rainbow earlier in the afternoon and knew that was not the case. Plus, the carpet around her dresser was soaked, so much so that the bottom of her dresser was showing signs of water damage. After some further searching, some items in her closet were also wet, meaning water was getting into the closet somehow.

I showed TJ my findings when he returned home from work and together we figured out that our master shower is leaking behind the wall that connects our bathroom to T.G.'s bedroom and closet. He drilled some holes to pinpoint exactly where the water is coming from and to survey the damage, and the 2 x 4's that support the wall were soaked. It has been leaking for some time, and the doll, because of her age, was the source of the smell (wet and musty). We put the fan on in her room and pulled her dresser out in an attempt to spare the carpet. Thankfully it worked and the smell will be completely gone once we get the carpets professionally cleaned. But, for now, we are banned from our shower and have been forced to share bathrooms with the kids.

The only way to fix the leak is to rip out our shower and start fresh. A plumber will probably have to be called to repair the leak unless it is minor; we won't know until the wall comes down. Because of the costs involved, we are going to take it slow since we pay cash for everything. We simply don't have the money to pay for everything up front now, particularly with TJ having to take 9 un-paid days off work and us trying to plan for the future. TJ thinks he will have to take some more un-paid days off during the next fiscal year, so we are trying to save some money for then. If I remember correctly, he figured his furlough days costs us about $2,700, so we definitely feel the squeeze.

However, I am thankful the Lord has provided for us and will continue to provide for us, even in times of tighter budgets and tough economic times.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reflection is the heart of, well, everything

I have found, and been taught through countless university courses, that the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher is reflection: reflection on the lesson, student learning, and ways the teacher can improve. Perhaps I have taken this to heart because I tend to apply it in all areas of my life, not just in my teaching. Which is a mixed blessing, I suppose. I know I need to improve as a wife and mother, and I definitely need work on being a better source of encouragement for my friends, particularly because I allow the busyness of my life to sometimes get the best of me. However, dear friends, I would like you to know I think of you often and pray for you regularly despite my lack of communication with you. I will try better, especially at responding to emails as that seems to be the area that needs to improve the most.

There has been a lot going on in my family’s life lately that I have not shared. Not that I didn’t want to, it’s just simply been a lack of time to relay the information. First, Tristin-Grace will hopefully be referred to an ophthalmologist for an eye examination. I have a feeling she may need glasses as her eye crosses much like Tanner’s did. She also gets really close to her book when she’s coloring, her face literally inches from the page. I meet with her pediatrician this afternoon to do a preliminary examination.

Second, Teagan is somewhat delayed on her gross motor skills. At almost 5 months old, she does not seem to be where she should be. She is not rolling over nor attempting to, she does not grab at toys or other objects, and the most noticeable is that she displays hypotonia, meaning she has low muscle tone. When she is held upright, her neck is not very strong and is still wobbly like a newborn. When I put her in her exersaucer, she has difficulty holding herself up. When I put her in her walker, I have to shove a blanket down between the seat and her belly in order for her to sit up. That’s not normal for a 5-month old. Baby Net is coming the latter part of the first week in March to do an evaluation, and by then she will be about 5 ½ months old, so we’ll see what happens. I’m not terribly concerned, but the best predictor of future success is early intervention, and I’m all about that. Like I told TJ, it can’t hurt, it can only help. If she qualifies, she will receive up to 1-hour per week of physical therapy and the interventionist would come to our home to do therapy. I can’t ask for anything more convenient!

Again, back to reflecting, I am not sure if I could have done more to help Teagan gain those skills that she seems to struggle with, but I am happy that I was aware enough to notice them and speak up at her well-baby visit. Like I said, in the next 2 weeks, she could reach those milestones and not need any intervention, which would be ideal, but in case she doesn’t, at least I was pro-active and took the necessary steps to advocate for her well-being.

Well, Teagan calls and I am thankful to have the opportunity this afternoon to be home with the kids. I had to report to the university today instead of my school, and I was released for the day at noon.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day (early!)

So my husband felt like my birthday was not all that he wanted it to be because our dinner was not "the best". Dinner was okay, just not worth the price we paid per meal. Anyway, today he surprised me by sending a dozen roses to my school. Is that not the sweetest thought ever? I was so shocked, especially because it was so unexpected! That's what I love about him- the little thoughtful things he does for me.

I just happened to be in the main office talking to the secretary when the FedEx man made a delivery. I turned to walk back to my class when she told me the package was a delivery for me. I immediately corrected her since my mentor teacher and I have similar last names and said, "You mean Mrs. _____?" And she said, "No, it's for you. I promise." I felt my face match the same shade of red as my shirt, and I opened it right then. The flowers are beautiful, and there was also a package of chocolates (chocolate- my favorite!). I left the flowers on display in my class but I brought the chocolate home.

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera or else I'd take a picture, but you know what flowers look like. I did have to put the vase waaaaaay up high on the top of a bookshelf because there is a boy who likes to throw things when he gets upset. I didn't want my glass vase and pretty flowers to be his first target.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

All Sick on the Homefront

Everyone is sick with a cold in my house this weekend. I don't know who started it, but it's made its way to all of us in some form or another. Th and T.G. have been running low-grade fevers, and all of us have coughs and runny noses. Gross! I think T.G. has it the worst, though. She just looks miserable and hasn't been sleeping well at all. Of course, she wakes in the middle of the night during times that I am nursing, meaning TJ has to console her since I have Teagan.

No big plans this weekend and for that I am very grateful! We definitely need a break from our chaotic schedules to just rest and stay put. School is very time-consuming for me (between teaching during the day and taking university courses in the evening) so I welcome the opportunity to plan and prepare lessons for next week, as well as work on my university assignments. My supervisor is coming to observe me on Wednesday so I need to make sure my lesson plan is perfect and I am fully prepared mentally for her visit.

Well, Teagan calls so that's all for now. . .

Sunday, February 1, 2009

20 Random Things

Some of this is the same as my Facebook page. But, I am doing this for those who are not on Facebook. Plus, it’s funny how you can know someone, yet not really know him or her. It’s the same with the Lord. He knows us, but unless we take time to know Him, we sort of make assumptions or guesses as to God’s character.

1. I love chocolate cake with white icing. It’s my favorite and the only way I think chocolate and vanilla should be combined. I hate chocolate cake with chocolate icing, and will tolerate white cake with chocolate icing. Picky, I know.

2. I went to 8 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 1 high school. However, I moved 15 times before I reached the age of 18. I hate moving and always wanted to be the family that raised their kids in the same house for generation after generation.

3. I have lived in Rock Hill longer than anywhere else- -ever. We've been here for 5 1/2 years.

4. I miss the Air Force. I left home searching for independence within the confines of structure. I loved the military and, if my husband supported it, I would join again as a KC-10 pilot. I loved being a part of something so big I was unable to see the end result. But, just knowing I was contributing made the long hours, terrible weather, and deployments away from loved ones worth it.

5. I have never been on a cruise but I am hoping my husband will surprise me with one for our upcoming 10th anniversary in July.

6. I don’t carry a purse unless I have a lot of stuff I need to carry because I think they are annoying. I stopped carrying a diaper bag for the same reason and now have a basket o’ baby stuff in my van.

7. I love the beach, especially the Outer Banks. I would like to own a house there one day.

8. I have difficulty getting my thoughts together. I know what I want to say or write, but struggle to get them out. I often forget words (they are right on the tip of my tongue) and have to have TJ help me think of them. I give him the meaning, and he gives me the word I am looking for. He has helped me write all of my college papers for this reason.

9. TJ asked me out at least 6 times before I agreed to go on a date with him. After the first date, I knew we would get married.

10. My honeymoon was spent meeting my in-laws for the first time. TJ and I said we would take a honeymoon for our 5th anniversary, and we didn’t get the chance. I hope to rectify that situation now that 10 is right around the corner.

11. My favorite candy is the Cherry Twizzlers Peel apart. I don’t really care for regular Twizzlers.

12. I am a perfectionist and so is my husband. We sometimes disagree as to what constitutes "perfect." :)

13. I don’t take enough time each day to wrestle with my kids. When I do, I feel refreshed.

14. Eggs give me headaches and I have to be in the mood to eat them.

15. I sometimes feel like I live my life as a bystander. It’s difficult to describe, but there are moments where I see myself as another person. Those are the times I remember, whether they are good or bad.

16. I do not think I look my age. I still think I look the same as I did when I was in my late teens/early 20s, but then I see a picture of a friend of mine, and she has obviously aged, meaning I must have, too.

17. I hate driving cars. My first vehicle was a car, and I only drove it for a year before getting a truck. I haven’t driven a car since. . .

18. I married at 20 and am thankful for the time TJ and I were able to be married and experience life as a married couple before having kids. We often tell our boys funny stories of our early years of marriage.

19. I have given birth naturally 3 times without drugs or pain medication. I never thought I could tolerate the pain until I did it the first time. It really wasn’t so bad, sort of like Basic Training.

20. I would like to have more kids, and so does TJ, but I am hesitant because of our housing situation. Where would we put another baby? We are leaving it to the Lord to do as He sees fit for our family. He can handle the housing situation as I have far more to do than worry about "what ifs."