Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Disney Day 2

Day one was nothing short of greatness.  Not once, I forgot to mention, did Ryan or either of the littles even remotely begin to request any of the three i-devices I brought in my giant mommy-sherpa-backpack.  Do you realize how huge that is?  Ryan lives around three things: YouTube on the TV, Thomas the Tank Engine and ALL (and I mean ALL) his friends, and i-device time.

Day two started with the addition of a stroller.  If you remember in Day One we chose just the one industrial-sized rented stroller.  The day we went to Epcot, we got two.  And oh boy, was that a great thing.  Made a world and a half of distance.  We've noticed that if Ryan is expected to walk, he wants to do just that... walk.  Perpetual motion in its most persistent form.  But if he has a rolling place to sit, we are able to stop and enjoy a few things without near as much complaint.

It's also important to remember what "complaint" means.  It's not whining or "gee mom, can't we keep going" it's a serious amount of hitting, screaming, and fighting against having to stay put.  It's hard to describe unless you've been there.  Once you experience it, there's no need for words.  Ya just know.

The day started like this...


Because Eric and I are firm believers in ear hats.  Richie loved watching the embroidery machine put his name on his completely traditional black Mickey ears, and Maelynn was enjoying all the other options, though she chose nearly as traditional as her big brother... a nice, pink one.  



Then there was Ryan.  He got a blue baby-boyish ear hat when he was two, but had no interest in one at 8.  *le sigh* 

But he did jump up and proclaim, "MY HAT!" just like Woody as he grabbed himself a Toy Story sheriff's hat.  




Once we were all sufficiently capped, we found Test Track and all of us loved it!  Richie especially.  He's turned into quite the coaster head since that trip!

After a couple of random other rides and things, then some lunch, we headed for the Monorail.  Daddy had band stuff to do for the afternoon, so we thought we'd hop a ride on this and make Ryan's day.  Which it did. 


After a nice, relaxing ride, we got back to Epcot and walked around a bit, then looked down and this is what I saw in the littles' stroller. 


So we parked, and made this kid real happy with a nice big cup of brown ice cream!


Then it was princess time.  Maelynn was super stoked about meeting princesses.  I may have been too.  

Our first stop was with Belle, with whom Maelynn had a great talk about reading and brothers and stuff.  The next stop was Aurora, who was just down the way a bit.  

Y'all, say what you will about Disney and its cast members... this  was amazing to me.  These princesses have learned their characters so well that they sound like them.  It was nuts.  And although it was hot and there was a line of sweaty preschoolers lined up to hug her neck, Aurora took time to learn some dance steps Maelynn wanted to share.  


Isn't that just precious?  And they talked and hugged and I cried.  And it was awesome.  


That night, Eric and I took the plunge and chose to get reservations at the Garden Grill.  Richie and Maelynn REALLY dug getting to play with all the characters.  Chip and Dale were hilarious, with Dale trying to eat Maelynn's ponytail, and Pluto was super cool.  

After dinner, we pretty much ran to the lagoon so that we could watch Illuminations, and this is pretty much the gist of the trip.  WOW.  


Then it was time to head out.  On the way out, I had to turn around and snap this, because Spaceship Earth is the coolest... even though it wasn't on the list of things we rode.  And I'm a Disney geek.


Back at the hotel, we all pretty much crashed.  And again, no one asked for an i-device.  The whole day.  Even when it was hot and they were tired, nope.  We rode and rode, and walked and walked, and waited and waited.  And this was the result.


The thing you can't see in the pictures is the work that went behind the smiles.  The brothers were very cranky that we were waiting for princesses, but there was nothing we could really ride without Daddy.  They did pretty well while we waited for Belle, but the whole time Maelynn played with Aurora, Ryan screamed.  

Sometimes there are things that require us to take one for the team, and there are times the team takes one for us.  There are times when those happen at the same time.  This day, this trip, was not easy.  But it was worth it.  Such is life.  Life isn't just the happy faces in the pictures.  Real life is the work and drive and faith behind them.  

More on the Magic Kingdom, phone charger failure, roller coasters, and princesses tomorrow... and at the end, our take on the new disability pass system.  

Thanks be to God for the patience and endurance, and sometimes... for the trusty clicking along of the clock, for there are times it's our rest.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Disney Day 1

Where to start?

Hello again.  It's been a while since I did this, largely due to the mega life-changes that come with the shift from staying home to the land of leaving the house and getting paid to do so.  It's a third job just shifting from one to the other.  For real.  More about that later.

I've kinda ripped you off.  I meant to tell you all about Disney every night, as I always seemed to do on a trip like that.  Thing is, life got fast.  Real fast.  Along with the fast came tired.  Choices were made, and I'm sad to admit that a natural choice was to drop writing for a while.  But look out... I'm back.

The first day of Disney... gosh, that was great.  We learned some things about us being us, and put into practice the things that we already knew about us.  We got a double stroller, thinking in our Disney-drunk minds that the kids would be more than happy to take turns riding.

VERY FUNNY.

The first day was MGM Disney Hollywood Studios.  (I have the hardest time remembering that change, y'all.)  It was hot.  They were tired.  It was a blast, but goodness... what did I expect?  This is how the day began.


Wonderful, right?  I mean look at those fabulous babies with that fabulous duck.  Seriously, I thought I'd die of cuteness.  Maelynn kept running back to hug her, and Daisy kept responding in true Disney fashion with hands over her bill and her heart.  It was, in short, adorable.  

What you can't see is Ryan's screams of protest.  This was, to be fair, the first thing we really waited in line for other than his disability pass, which I will get to.  It wasn't a mega-meltdown, but it wasn't fun. 

Then there was this... Disney Jr. Live.  Funneled into a darkened room with tons of other people, to sit on the floor.  No boundary.  *insert Mama screaming and pulling out hair*

We snuggled.  And he put his jacket on.  Yes, it was hot.  But he needed his own space.  The jacket provided a hiding space.  He pulled that hood hard down over his face and buried it in my lap and rode this show out like a pro.  We learned quickly that this was how we would get through the little show-rides.  I'd pull out the jacket, ask him if he wanted it over his head, and then put it over his head.  I'd tell you we got some weird looks, but honestly, I didn't notice.   Here's the celebratory I-made-it-through-this selfie that he asked for.  

Yes, he did.  He asked for a picture with Mom.  *swoon*


Rides... we rode.  It was awesome.  Most of them he either tolerated or loved.  If one of those wouldn't be the outcome, we didn't do it.  Let's just say there was very little we didn't do.  Here's a shot I got of my Mom (here referred to as "Granny")  and Maelynn on the Toy Story ride.  They ROCKED it! 


And we wandered more... thought I'd never get that jacket off Ryan.  But I let it go, and eventually he did realize he needed to remove it.  With the promise that I'd keep it handy in my backpack, we were good.  After lunch, we found the Muppet fountain...


Yes, that is Ryan's jeans-clad bum and legs.  In the time it took for me to back up and say, "Smile for mama" he had almost his head in the water.  If you ever wondered if this kid is really drawn to water *that* strongly... I mean, come on, all kids love water... here you go.  

The best stuff happened toward the end of the day.  Ryan wanted to ride the elevator.  Not just any elevator... the Tower of Terror.  Or so he thought.  We were in that end of the park, and I told him that if he'd ride a roller coaster and liked that, then he could choose to ride that elevator.  I told him it was scary, not a usual elevator, etc.  Then I did something I never thought I'd do.  

He said "yes" with tons of enthusiasm.  I walked with him up to the Fastpass area, told the castmember that he wanted to ride, and he penciled (okay, penned) in a ride time for us to return.  Worked just like Fastpass, but would work alongside Fastpass.  It was greatness.  

I figured he'd decide that no, it wasn't for him after all.  Surely when we got to the line he'd flip and we'd leave.  

Then I thought surely when he has to get in that seat and pull that thing down, that will be time to use the old-fashioned "chicken exit".  And I was completely okay with that.  I love that coaster... it's my favorite... but I couldn't believe I was about to let him do this.  

He didn't change his mind.  He got in the car, pulled the safety harness down, and we were off.  

I have to admit that I don't know if he screamed... I'm almost sure he did.  I kept my hand on his knee as a reminder that Mommy's here, thinking that might help.  

When we pulled into the end of the ride, I asked what he thought, and his response was "You will get OFF!"  Oh man, did I hang my head till we were good and off.  

Then the people in front of him high-fived him for making it.  And he grinned the most huge, proud grin I've ever seen on his face.  When asked the rest of the trip if he liked it, he'd emphatically say "Yes!" in his best newscaster voice.  But then when asked if he wanted to do it again? 

"No!"  in the same voice. 

The end of the night was the hardest.  Fantasmic is one of my favorite parts of Disney, and we were by golly gonna go.  It was hard, but he made it.  

By the way... about a week later, Ryan couldn't stop watching YouTube videos of people riding roller coasters.  Two weeks later, he was drawing them on the marker board at school.  

Ya just never know, folks.  

Hopefully tomorrow I'll get to posting Disney Day 2.  This was so fun, and this trip had such an impact on us as a family that it's not hard to remember the best stuff.  And yes, I will eventually address the hot topic of the disability pass.  But really it's not that hot of a topic.  Not near as hot as it was made out to be for our family, anyway.  

Thanks be to God for the Groesbeck band boosters... because they're the reason we got to go. 

And thanks for mentioning the blog today, Tara.  I'd all but given up on it.  Love ya girlie.  



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Righteousness Misplaced

Sheesh, it's been the better part of a month since I posted.

That, my friends, is the last few weeks in a nutshell.  Whoosh.  That vision at the end of Toy Story with Woody hanging onto that moving truck for dear life, cheeks and eyelids flapping in the air is accurate.  Our home trainer told a very overwhelmed me at our first meting after I started working that transitioning from a stay at home mom to a working mom is a full time job in itself.

She's right.

There's not much different at home, except that I'm not here as much.  The transition has gone as smoothly as I could have hoped for, with the exception of a few glitches here and there.  But even the glitches have smoothed with the give and take of teamwork.  In all that figuring out and hashing through and working to make sure we have all our bases covered I've learned something really important.  It's a game-changer, folks.  It settles that whole working versus stay at home mom thing once and for all.

Ready?  Hold on to your hat.  It's earth-shattering, I tell you.  Earth-shattering!

There is no one-size-fits-all for how to mother, father, parent, run your household, or any of the above.  You say you're at home for good?  Great! Stayed home the six weeks allotted and then went back to work?  Great! So you homeschool?  Fabulous!  Put your child on a yellow bus every morning to the public school in your area?  Wonderful!  You cloth diaper?  Neat!  Can't stand the idea and love your Pampers?  Cool!

You know, there's a lot of guilt on either side of the mommy debates.  Whether it's food or discipline or schooling or clothing or TV watching or electronics usage, there are endless blogs, magazine articles, books, studies, and even seminars that will attempt to sell you on their idea.  Actually, I guess I fit into one of those categories, too.  Hmm.

But really, I'm no expert.  I'm no expert on any of these angles.  The only experience I have, other than listening when friends talk, is my own.  And I really can't make decisions based on what friends experience.  So maybe... just maybe... I should only decide what's right for me based on our needs.

Novel idea to some.

We started our family with an agreement that I'd be home.  Period.  We decided that based on a few things.  The first, and my husband's largest point, was that he wanted to give his kids what his parents gave him.  And since he and his sister both turned out pretty great, and there wasn't much nuclear family stuff I wanted to copy from my experience, it was easy to sign on to stay home.

Let me make this clear.  I am NOT sorry I stayed home.  Not for one minute.  I'm grateful for the years I had to be home with my kids.  But once my daughter was born, I got nervous.  Through that experience it was made unmistakably clear that we were through having kids.  My body didn't need to try that again.  Just wasn't up for it.  So I started to be nervous that the kids wouldn't need me and I'd have to go back to work.

From my perspective, I saw the shortcomings I had as a mom at home full time and added them to what I knew it took to do my job, and decided that there was no way that would ever work.  I can't keep my house clean when I'm home full time.  What's going to happen when I try to add work?  And then there was Ryan and his needs.  He's used to my being home.  He can depend on mommy to be here.  What will happen when I go back to work?  Who will drive him to therapy?

Silly mommy.  You can't work.  Surely that wouldn't be in God's plans for you.  He can see what you're up against and he wouldn't allow that.  And the stress I was under being in charge of everyone's care, including meals, cleaning, laundry, etc. told me that there was no way I could handle a job plus all that.  Just the nature of my profession alone would not lend itself to our family.  Band in small town Texas means you're out Monday all day between the work day and marching rehearsal, and then there are Fridays.  Friday night lights were optional as a stay-at-homer, but they'd be required as a band director.  And so many Saturdays in October for marching contest.

There was no way I'd be able to do that to our family.  All those things coupled with even more there's just not room to list made it look like the most pragmatic choice for my employment was to be right here.  Oh, and then there's the fear that I would have forgotten how to do it.

Before I knew it, the same mom who was happy to stay home became resigned to staying home.  Then resignation turned to sadness.  The fire in my heart for band fanned again, I found myself telling my husband through heaving sobs that the idea of never teaching band again felt like a death sentence.

But why was it so hard to admit?  Why all the tears?

Misplaced righteousness.

To be a good person, I told myself, to be a worthy Christian Mom, I had to stay home.  Never mind that I knew and loved moms who worked their tails off and were awesome moms.  I would never have told them that they had to stay home, because I really believed they were rocking life just the way they were.   I could blame it on money, but that would be a lie. God always provided for us.  Yes, money got squeaky sometimes but we always had what we needed plus some.

The hard truth was that I wanted to work.  I missed work. I loved what I did.  I'm one of those folks who knew what they wanted to do from age 10.  Went into college, declared my major, and barreled through.  I tried telling myself to just let it go and enjoy band as an observer.  I tried dreaming of other jobs that would be more acceptable to the big-brother Christian culture that tells women that their worth should always come from their clean homes and well-behaved children.

Let's get this out there once and for all.  THAT IS NOT TRUE.  Very few of us actually believe that.  Yes, we'll go to parenting classes and smile and nod and amen, then turn around and leave feeling guilty that we don't live up.  Honestly, maybe even hoping no one finds out how far short we fall.  That we feed our kids chicken nuggets and ice cream and candy and let them watch TV.

I bought into this more than I realized.  With this expectation hanging over my head, staying home became more and more of a martyrdom.  I'd look through blogs on this and that, usually trying to find something that would make me passionate about cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry or to try again to convince myself that I could be like all those cool moms and homeschool my kids.  I could do it!

And yes, I could.  I could do a lot of things.  But as I kept trudging along, it became more and more apparent that God gave me a passion for band.  Those little heart reminders that I loved it and it was so fun... and I could do it again... became catalysts for my looking back at God saying, "Silly Father.  I can't do that.  You said it was my place to be home forever!  See me doing the right thing?  See?"

Then I began to realize that maybe it wasn't God who said that, but cultural, big-brother Christianity.

As I sat in that CE class at church, I realized that I was adding to Jesus' gift of my salvation.  Staying home, something that began as a real gift to my family, had become something I felt I had to do to be okay.  To be acceptable.  To save myself from judgement.

Ouch.

We don't need to add anything to Christ's gift.  No, scratch that.  We CANNOT add anything to Christ's gift of salvation.  All we can do is live in the comfort and wonder of its peace and security.

Staying home for my children is a gift I will always be grateful for being able to give.  And now that I'm back at work, I can see that it was time.  There are still things I feel guilty about.  I wanted to want to be home forever.  And I still hear the words of a few blogs that underhandedly shamed moms who want to work ringing in my ears now and again.  Why would I need more to life than my kids?  I really don't know.  But the same God who knit me together in my mother's womb, who knows the hairs on my head, and stores my tears... that same God knows why he gave me such a desire to teach and made it possible.   And he also knows why I'm a better mom for going ahead and going back when I needed to.

Largely, it's been great.  Sometimes it's not easy, but it's better.  And it's better not because working is better... it's better because it's what I was supposed to do.

Thanks be to God for showing me it was time... and for all those who were encouraging and helpful in so many ways (I'm looking at you, RPC bible study ladies who gave me meals to help with my first little bit of work, and my dear BFF the FCCLA teacher and working mommy extraordinaire... not to mention the GISD band staff/family for giving me band hall time all those years!) and for my amazing husband, my Mom, and J for picking up everything I've had to lay aside for this semester.



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Disney: The Pre-Days

Since I took a job recently, planning for this trip did not happen.  Add that onto taking a day off the trip at the front to make sure I only missed one day of work, and that makes for well... we're here.



We left town only thirty minutes behind schedule Friday morning.  Not bad if you know me and trips.  I was worried about bored kids a little, and I was concerned about the long-haul trip as far as driving went, but the funny thing is that I wasn't bent out of shape about anything.  It was just time to go, and we did the best we could to pack and we went. 



Plenty of snacks, drinks, and these neat little bags of cheap toy, sticker, coloring, etc. treats that I'd made for each kid helped along the way.  So did the I-devices.  Mostly.



I thought that I'd let Ryan play iPad for a while, then make the rule at home stick... and he'd only have iPad a while, then watch movies with us all on the road.

After a meltdown of epic proportions that ended in me pulling over and leaving a lasting yet not so good impression on a small town outside Lafayette, I realized I might be in over my head.

No, I panicked.

But after a while on the road, he settled and we were fine.  We pulled in to another small town in Mississippi at a decent hour, ate dinner, and hit the sack in the hotel by nine.  Then we woke for another early departure, this time with another plan.  I'll just trade out the iPad with the iPod, and explain that it needs to charge.

Huh.  Yeah.  No.

So following around 18-20 hours of driving, sitting in traffic, listening to movies, and making fun of road signs (my personal trip favorite) we made it.  I'm sitting here in a hotel, with what seems like Mardi Gras going on outside my window, waiting for Eric to get here on the bus with the band kids and the rest of the staff.  Oh, and we don't want to talk about how much iPad Ryan had.  Just don't ask.

I'm taking my kids to Disney tomorrow, y'all. 



Here's a little secret... I almost blew it.  I almost decided I couldn't take it and turned around and went home.  It wasn't an idle threat.  I really couldn't take any more screaming and hitting, especially when part of the hitting was on the van window.  After that parking lot in Louisiana, I had to decide to either loosen my standards or lose this opportunity.

With the echoes of our home-trainer in my head, I let go and decided we would do our best.  We can't stop doing everything because it might go badly.  Yes, it might go badly.  And yes, there will probably be parts that will go badly.  Some things have already gone badly.  I've had the credit card I use stolen and used one place before we shut it off (yay for Discover!), they lost our reservation at the rental car place *coughthanksHERTZ* so we brought our ol' Minnie, and there have been meltdowns.  But I have to work on not letting one bad hour or two here and there ruin what could be an amazing time.

So here I sit, having lost two hours of sleep even before I go to bed (time zone, time change), having driven hard for two days, getting ready to crash before we go to the Mouse House tomorrow.  I'm nervous.  We have social storied... because my husband ROCKS... and we have talked through the trip, what to expect, and we've done what we can do... now it's time to do it.

Thanks be to God!  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Special Needs in the Classroom: Insider Information for my Music Educator Friends

For four years out of college, I was a band director.  I loved what I did.  And I had a few special needs kids in my bands and classes of varying degrees of severity, and never really thought much of it.  There were even a few times I sat in on ARD meetings, and every time I wondered why the parents looked so scared.

I certainly never planned to be one of those parents.  But as you know, that's my reality.

Our little bear in a Sousaphone at his first Baylor basketball game.


The first clinic out of the box after ten years of staying home with the kids was one that I thought all too fitting.  It was supposed to be all about special needs kids in the music classroom.  Instead, it was one guy telling stories about his life teaching and with his special needs child.  Cool, man.  I get that.  There were a lot of things I could relate to, but so many that I just couldn't quite.

But it answered hardly any questions and left me squirming in my chair thinking I'd like five minutes with that microphone.

So here's what I'd tell all of you over lunch if I could.  Take them for what they're worth.  And obviously, double check anything for legality.

1. I'd like you to introduce you to someone.  He'll answer half your questions about whatever special needs kid walks in your room.  You'll be tempted to ignore him in all the shuffle of beginning of the year paperwork, but please don't.  He covers everything from bus schedules to every minute of the day to behavior plans that have been put in place.  Meet Mr. IEP, or Individual Education Plan.

2.  Every year, make sure you don't just scrawl your signature saying you received IEP's.  Open them. Read them.  FOLLOW THEM.  If there is something you don't understand, go see the diagnostician.  Call the parents.

3. Don't ignore the IEP.  Have I said this enough?  This is not only helpful to you and the student and the parents, it is LEGALLY BINDING.  Not something to "meh" away.

4. Don't be scared.  These kids are people.  Even if they're non-verbal (unable to speak) they will show you their personalities.  If you will give them time and, in some cases, several chances, you will see.  I can tell you that Ryan does not do well with people who are nervous about him.  He knows, he senses, and it makes him nervous.  Imagine a rickety rope bridge over a raging river versus a sturdy, steel-and-concrete bridge over the same.  Which would you trust with your footing?

5. Every kid is different in your room, right?  So is every autistic child.  Every child with an extra chromosome.  Diagnoses are not cookie cutters.  They are keys to understanding.  Tickets to services.

6. Routine.  Establish routine.  You probably do this anyway, right?  Ryan needs to know what will happen next, just like you need to know where your phone is, where you parked your car, or where you live.  Something as simple as his place in the room being moved is as disturbing to him as you walking out to leave for work and your car not being there.  Or walking out and seeing that someone has replaced it with another, similar car without your knowledge or permission.  Better or worse, change is change.

7.  Attend the ARD.  If you possibly can, be there.  Accept your part in this child's education.  Yes, it's fifty minutes a day of the child's life.  What's the big deal?  It's a huge deal.  Please step up.

8.  Establish a line of communication with the parents.  Be kind, listen, but also be honest.  As in, if you're planning a trip to an amusement park for your band, call Mom and Dad the day before you present this to the class.  Ask what we can do to make it work for little Susie, who might run or wander away and get hurt.  Don't be surprised if they volunteer to go along, ask the principal for an aid for her, or just tell you that isn't something they want for her.  I have been known to keep Ryan home from a class trip if I knew it was going to be absolute misery for him.

9.  If you need help that is in the IEP and you are not getting it, let your administrator know.  So often these things are not just for your convenience but for the health and safety of the child!  Insist that the IEP is followed.  If an aid is needed, crow until Johnny has one.  If Johnny has autism and wanders or is trying to escape the room or worse the school, he needs that aid.  And I know how hard it is to focus on anything other than the music you're trying to prepare for UIL.  Protect Johnny and legally yourself, and bark and document your asking for what he needs until he gets it.

10.  Along the same lines, know your limits.  If you're talking about marching band rehearsal and Susie is a bolter, be honest in the ARD and in phone calls.  Don't ever assume parents know how things work.  Be honest about what is expected, if you can find something to do.  My husband's school has been amazing about opening the band program to kids, regardless of ability or disability, and the kids have responded with love for these kids that more than warms my heart.  But everything has to be modified.

11.  Modify.  It's just good teaching.  You're not going to lose anything by letting a kid dress in a uniform and do SOMETHING at halftime, and something in the stands.  There is almost always SOMETHING they can do to be a part.  Let them do what they can do.  If they can't handle it... give them a break.

12. What's a break?  Varies from kid to kid.  For Ryan, who is overwhelmed by a lot of people and sound, a safe room to exit to and calm down in might be best. Again, this is where an aid can come in handy... or an assistant if you have one.

13. You can do this.  You will not regret trying it, even if it doesn't work out.

14. Did I mention communicating?  Communicate with the student as much as possible, with his other teachers, with the diagnostician, with the parents, with everyone who has contact with this kid at school.  An email is sometimes all it takes.

What's the big deal about whether or not kids with special needs get to participate in band, orchestra, choir, or a sport?  Their quality of life.  The other kids' education and growing as a person.

Remember, for every kid who isn't going to do much for your organization, there is a set of parents or guardians who just want to see him do something that makes him happy.  That is the crux of everything we do, or it should be.  Happy and successful.  And sometimes, for these people... I know it's true for Ryan... happy IS successful.  Success looks different for different people.

Something I wish I could tell all of you... the last thing, and maybe the only thing if you get just one... I've recently been through a pretty rigorous job interview by a committee.  They asked some very good questions and really had me tap-dancing.  That interview was a piece of cake compared to an ARD meeting (IEP meeting).  Why?

When you talk about Ryan, you're talking about my whole heart.  You're taking it out of my body, tossing it around the table.  I'm wondering what you're going to say about it next.  When I can just get it back and put it where it's safe.  In any communication you have with parents or kids, regardless of ability, please treat them with respect.  You will come across parents who don't want to be bothered with their kids' lives, but for the most part, I bet they want what's best, and will be glad to hear that you care enough to do your best for their child.

Thank you for being an educator.  Thank you for being an educator that cares to read posts from desperate teacher/moms like me.

And of course, thanks be to God for how far we've come in including and improving the lives of special needs kids.  There is still much work to do, but it's so much better in so many ways. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Path and Markers

"It's scary to walk the streets of downtown San Antonio with a little boy who, to put it lightly, does not like to hold hands.  The bigger problem is that he isn't afraid of traffic.  Candles, yes.  Birds, he's not excited about.  But traffic?  Meh." ~Me, February 2013 

If you've been around here very long at all, you know how Ryan feels about holding hands.  If you're new, let's just say he's not a fan.  

If you're really new, and tempted to shrug that off and say "why don't you just make him?" then you should go back here and catch up a touch.   In this house, there is no "just".   

With both Eric and I needing to catch clinics, there was less time for me to take the kids for a walk around.  They were less bored, too.  They had me for part of the day, then their Dad, and vice versa.  Not just all Mama, all the time.  They're old enough now that we're comfortable with just one of us taking them swimming, too, which is helpful.  

The first night, we simply got them to the room and settled, then I brought in dinner.  I had to register.  Since all this has happened so fast, I more than missed online pre-registration, and in order to hit the ground running the next day, I needed to do the same as soon as we arrived.  

Since Friday was Valentine's Day, we wanted to be sure to stay in.  I know, strange to be on the Riverwalk and not go out.  But when you and you kids HATE crowds and have one who is way less than fond of waiting, it's best to order in.  The kids had a nice Valentine's present trip to the Disney store in the mall, then their favorite for dinner.  

The real gift was the second night.  The night we took them to eat at our favorite spot on the Riverwalk.    

As we left the hotel, with Richie and Maelynn holding Daddy's hands in front of me, I instinctively reached down to hold Ryan's hand.  Instinctively as in what mommy would just do as a mommy.  Not as Ryan's mom.  As I felt his chubby, soft hand, I had the same hot flash you get when you pass a cop going a mile or two (or more) over the speed limit.  WHAT DID I JUST DO?!

Y'all, he held my hand.  

All the way to the blue elevator.  

I didn't want to mention it, for fear that he'd stop.  I wanted Eric to look... I wanted him to see... I wanted to jump up and down... but I didn't want him to let go.  So we just walked.  Hand in hand.  For the first time in I don't know when, my little boy held my hand without a fight or a meltdown or hitting and screaming.  

And it was wonderful. 

There were other times while we were on our trip that were frustrating enough for all of us.  The rapid-fire "SWIM!" and the ever-popular, near-constant wailing of "NO HOME!!!" on the last day were present.  There was also the new "NO STORE!!!"   And once we got to the outlet mall (because mommy needed work clothes), the same thing we always do when we're on our way home from convention, he had a mega-meltdown that spanned what felt like a year, but was probably only twenty minutes of screaming, hitting and the rest of us just trying to keep calm and keep pedaling.  

On the other side of the lowest times last week, I can see that there are things we need to adjust about how we do things at convention and beyond.  On this side of the high points, I can see that there is a whole lot we're doing pretty ok... and for the other stuff, there is grace.  There are always things that mark our path, and this time, one of those markers was having that sweet boy hold my hand for the longest time since he was probably three. 

Thanks be to God.  





Observations of my First Convention Back

So I've noticed a few things this week at my first convention as a working mom.

1. There are still great, incredibly helpful clinics.  If you don't know how to do something musical in a classroom, show up here.  Either you will find a clinic that covers it, or you will find someone who can help.

2.  There are dud clinics that bring out your inner bored fifth grader.  Even in the dud clinics, there's learning... even if it's just how I don't want to make my students feel.

3.  There are clinics that, as a smaller-than-small school director, I kinda smiled and thought things like, "That's nice.  But I'll stick to learning to teach little kids to sing in English before I tackle Japanese.  Thanks."

4. I still do happy little awkward things like getting on the wrong escalator.  No really.  I had to wait for like ten minutes in line and didn't realize until I had just stepped on the blasted thing.

5.  Running into Mr. Marsh is still the most awesome thing there.

6.  Running into my wonderful friends is a close second.

7.  Although things are automated and computerized, the work is the same.

8.  The exhibits are awesome and overwhelming.  As a working mom with limited time, I have to target what I need, find it, and get back.

9. The band stuff is so fun to talk about.  So fun.  And so easy.

10.  The very best part of convention is still stuff like this.


Their first family jump... all together now!  And it was their idea.  Not mine. 
Snuggles at our favorite restaurant.  Sister crashed and slept through the whole thing.  

What else do you need?  He LOVES the water.  

Good morning, Mommy and Daddy! 

And just now, I snapped this over the desk.  A second ago her head was on his shoulder.  Post-swim snuggles. 
It's different.  But at the same time, it's the same.  It takes more effort, yes.  But the effort creates a few nice side effects.  We have to communicate, so we can make sure we plan.  We have to be willing to give back and forth.   We're remembering how much we love being not just husband and wife, not just friends, a parenting team, but colleagues.


The little amazing things that aren't really little at all are still happening, and are just as amazing.  It's more of a challenge when I need to make a few clinics and do some business on the convention floor, but I like a challenge.

So glad my re-entering the working world started with our musical extended family and the kids, all together.

Thanks be to God for new beginnings that dovetail with the old.
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