The Graduation Situation

graduation ornamentYou may have noticed that there are very often several days or weeks between my posts recently.

I am sorry for that , but I have to be honest with you.

I have been having an affair on my blog.

With my studies. (insert horrible fake laughter here)

All kidding aside, this semester was the hardest semester for me yet. I am at the local community (or Junior) college completing my associates in Special Education and a certificate in Early Childhood. This means that next year I will move on to big kid school and work towards obtaining my bachelors in Early Childhood Education.

This semester found me taking three very difficult courses that truly should be taken at separate times. There was a lot of writing, editing, planning, demonstrating, and reading that went into this semester. I believe that this is the first time that I have actually read whole text books for classes.

curriculum classEarly Childhood Curriculum – aka a crash course in what your classroom/daycare center should look like and be doing. This course gave me so much insight on how to make my classroom a better place for my students and how to teach to them in a way that was engaging.

literacy class

Emergent Literacy – aka how children learn to speak and read and how you can teach them. This class was one I was intimidated by. The other students had so much more knowledge than me. I had to really focus and work hard to succeed in this class.

parent relations classParent & Child Relations – aka a class about how parents and children interact – aka how you are messing up your children in one long book.  This class was hard. The professor was very into allowing us to learn our own way, but I am a “Give me a rubric so I know what you want from me!” type of student. There was a learning curve.

 

I managed to obtain an A in all three classes. All of this while being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a coach. I also am in four musical groups, and teaching preschool. It is full around here. Our boys are doing well in school. We have even had meetings with all the teachers about our boys various difficulties. We have spent time with each other. My students have fun and educational things to do every week. Track has been successful (thanks to many other coaches- we have a great team). I mostly had all of my music learned for our Christmas performances in early December. I made time to help my friend move out of state (don’t worry, I live in Rhode Island, out of state is 20 minutes away!). I have even maintained a level of fitness that is changing my whole lifestyle. But I have missed my blog. I have missed pouring my soul out into this writing thing I do for you.

More importantly, I do not do this alone.

I find it hard sometimes to balance the school work for me, the school work for my students, the school work for my children, and the day to day tasks that need to be accomplished. I am grateful to have a husband who has stepped up to the plate. He does homework with the boys, the grocery shopping, the meal planning even, so that I can work, and study. He never once complains, and even goes as far as to being sure I am happy and have everything I need to do my work.  He is at his computer until late in the night being sure his work duties are accomplished, and has had to put time with friends on the back burner because my night classes interfere with his time to be with them. He has dedicated the last few years to being super dad while I am being a student.

I often remind him that he was lucky, he did college right out of high school, and moved right into a career. Not everyone finds their passion that early. My passion for educating children came later, and here I am trying to make everything work for  the good of our family. That reminder is a reminder to me. I need to work hard for this because I cannot afford to miss this opportunity this time.

graduation is almost hereI am doing this for me, but also for them. On May 20, 2016 I will graduate from Community college, a graduation that has been in the making since I started college the first time in 1998, and I will finally complete. Let’s hope the next degree does not take as long!

 

What are you doing for you? What did you start and never finish that you wish you could? What are you waiting for?

Friday Night

  I met my husband right out of high school. I never dated in college. We went on dates. We had fun, but in reality he was in a 3 year Bachelor degree program, and I was trying to double major in music education and special education. Our dates consisted of movies rented at Blockbuster (yes I am that old!) and doing homework. We would study and quiz each other and fall asleep on his couch while reading text books. I would find myself sneaking back into my house at 4 AM because we fell asleep and were exhausted (sorry mom and dad!) I never did the whole “single and ready to mingle” deal, and I know how lucky I am.

Steve and I have always kept it really casual. We do dinner or a movie, or we do take out and Netflix. I am back in school, finishing a degree I should have finished over 10 years ago. He is working more than I have ever seen before. We have three boys, and we are wanting to move to a bigger home with more land and less neighbors. Therefore date nights are casual.
We also take a lot of time to be with our friends. We have discovered that being with our friends helps our marriage. We vent to our friends, we come home to each other and we feel relaxed.
Tonight he is out with his friend, I am home reading text books and our boys are in bed. I do miss the days of highlighting textbooks side by side, but I am grateful for the opportunity to do it. I dropped out, got married and had babies right away. Thirteen years later, I am almost finished with my degree, still married after a hell of a few years, and a mom to three beautiful young men. I wouldn’t change a thing! 
So, Friday nights aren’t what they used to be, but they have new meaning. I am working hard to be a better mom and teacher and wife. We are working hard at our relationship. Our boys are working hard in school because they see us working hard every day. Studying my text has new meaning as each chapter shows me that as a mom, a wife, and a teacher I have so much to learn, and I do so much right. My doubts may step in, but my knowledge and my heart remind me that my passion is imparting wisdom on children (my own and others) and learning more myself.
Always keep learning, always keep teaching, always keep growing. Your relationships may depend on it! 

  

Back to Life

a part of my classroom
a part of my classroom
the essential teacher bag
the essential teacher bag

I am definitely still feeling the relaxation coming off of our vacation.  Today we were back to the real world. As a teacher my job doesn’t end when school ends, and it certainly does not begin when school begins. This summer, I have been working since May to prepare for this school year. I have been doing paperwork, cleaning toys, and many other tasks to be certain the school I work at has a smooth start to the year.  I also have been writing lesson plans, and preparing my classroom. I work with children ages 4 and 5. My classroom has to be fun and interesting. This is quite a challenge but I enjoy it!

i love my new school bag
i love my new school bag

I  am a full time student. I am preparing my text books, my notebooks, and my laptop to be ready for being a student again. I am almost finished with one degree, and then onto another. As A teacher, I know that my education is important. If I want to be an effective teacher, I need to be on top of the latest research. I also know the example I am setting for my own children.They see me reading my text books, writing papers, and finishing projects for my honors program.

just a small sample of the boys school supplies
just a small sample of the boys school supplies

I also am a mom to 3 wonderful boys. All three will be at the same school this year for the last time.  My oldest in 6th grade, my middle in 4th, and my youngest in 1st. Getting them ready for school was my first priority. I purchased school supplies and lunch boxes. We prepared them for the bus ride and our new routine. I also have prepared them for how busy mama will be. I think it is important for them to know that when they have my attention they have my attention.

seriously love this bag
seriously love this bag

In order for mama to stay organized in our busy schedule I need several bags. Sounds crazy, but I find having a bag for each event works best. I have a bag for teaching that holds markers, stickers, lesson plans, curriculum, and anything else I may need (water and lunch). I have a laptop bag for school for mama. This has my notebooks, a folder, my laptop, and a section for pencils, pens, highlighters, and my flash drive.  I also have a wonderfully large purse that goes with me to church or out with my husband. How do I keep it all together?  I have a few small zippered bags that hold all of the essentials. This way I can  just grab the small bags, change them to the other bag, and go!

the moving pieces
the moving pieces

I love that I can organize myself in a way that I always have what I need. Sometimes I have more than I need, and that works for me in situations like teaching or learning because I would never want to be unprepared for the opportunity to learn.  I am currently enjoying the last bits of summer I have with the boys before we all begin school again next week. I hope that I have prepared them for school in a way that will leave them having everything they need, and knowing that the woman that prepared it for them loves them more than they will ever know.

I find this to be very inspiring...
I find this to be very inspiring…

Being a mom

a wife

a student

and a teacher

means my heart and mind are always full

and I am pointed in a direction that means so much!

When It Is Not What You Expected.

my parents looking beautiful on Easter
my parents looking beautiful on Easter

Our parents are our first teachers.

They are our first hero.

They are the first to believe in us.

They are the first to care for us when we are sick.

As we age, we grow towards and from them like the ocean ebbs and flows from the shore.

As they age, their need for us to care for them becomes greater.

As they age, we are grateful for the moments to give back for all they gave us.

I mention in my bio my parents have had a few health issues over the last few years. My parents are not old, but I also remember that they are older than me, and as we age, no matter our age, our bodies start to show signs of wear and tear. If you are really active or not, your body is going to suffer at some point.

For my father, it has been joints, his heart, and problems with his ears. He has some hearing loss, and suffered for almost 6 months with vertigo before it was cured by a resourceful and dedicated doctor. There was a moment where I thought we were going to lose my dad. It was his heart. He lost consciousness while running. That was scary.  The end result was Atrial Fibrillation, and after an ablation, he has had no recurrence. He started eating healthier, walking more, and has shed some weight. He has worked hard to improve his overall health, and as a reward, he was recently discharged from his cardiologist.

My mom has been a teacher for over 30 years. Almost my whole life. She is so dedicated to her students that she often puts herself last. She has had problems with her knees as long as I remember. These issues stem from being a preschool/kindergarten teacher for so long and spending over 30 years in retail where she is constantly on her feet. She knew she needed to do something as the pain was unbearable. After a few procedures to try to avoid knee replacement, she eventually ended up needing it.

Earlier this summer she had her knee replacement surgery, and the surgery itself went as expected. What happened after was anything but expected.

Starting the day after surgery, my mom had heart and breathing issues that the doctors were able to resolve. After this episode they looked into her heart rate and some other things they were seeing and decided there was something going on. Several tests, appointments and added diagnosis later, she is now facing an uncertain diagnosis. Her doctor is saying it seems to be an autoimmune disorder, but is sending her for further testing. We do not have a name, but we do know that none of the “little” issues that have arisen will go away just because she gets a name. She is going to have to manage them all.

It means that my mom who has never “needed” a doctor will be spending days and weeks of appointments with them trying to figure out what is going on, and how to help her body recover.

I don’t know if she is scared or not. The not knowing? The unknown? That is my biggest fear in life. Here she is facing it. She is a rock star with her PT and making great strides with her knee. She still has a long recovery ahead of her. This is foreign to her. Taking medicine, going to doctors, being honest with herself and her doctors, these are all new to her.

The unknown is scary, and it can feel lonely, but in reality we have a strong family, and we will overcome it. Right now, right now we just don’t know, and it definitely is not what we expected.

~~~~

I would also like to add a note that I am writing this for my emotions. I know there are people who deal with more, and people who would kill to deal with another day with their parents. I do not take lightly how lucky I am to have them both and have these moments with them.

When all you see are stop signs.

these are on my dining room wall.
These sayings adorn my dining room wall. I do believe the sea is a great way to be free.

As I mentioned in my first post I am running a half marathon in October in Myrtle Beach. I am beyond nervous about this endeavor as it will be my first. I am not an athletic  person. I try hard, but every time I make any progress, there is always a stop sign.

I almost didn't take this picture. I thought they were stickers, but as I got closer I realized how perfect a moment this was.
I almost didn’t take this picture. I thought they were stickers, but as I got closer I realized how perfect a moment this was.

Ankle

Asthma

Throat infection

too busy

Lyme disease

boys activities

school work

lesson plans

papers to write

There is always an excuse to stop pushing forward. So, Like a good driver, I obey the rules of the road, and I stop. Well this morning we woke early to prepare for a busy day, and I found myself saying to Steve “I just don’t have time to run.” (There is that stop sign again!) I started reading through a magazine he got for me about being healthy, and I oo’d and ah’d over the exercises that looked so simple. I was doing nothing, the work for our afternoon party was complete. I stood up and said, What am I doing? I am sitting here reading a magazine complaining that I don’t have time to run. (stop sign)

the view that drives me!
the view that drives me!

I got up, changed into my running clothes, and said “I’ll be back!” I am fortunate to live in a part of my city that is a mile from the ocean. I run towards the water on almost every run because it is freeing. Looking out and seeing open water, remembering how small I am and how big others problems are. Perspective So I ran. It started as a walk. I knew my mileage (4 miles), I knew the time I wanted (56 minutes), I did not know how to get it at that moment.  I took the first step (green light) then, my walking wasn’t fast enough, and I started to run. I felt pain (yield sign?) I started walking again. Would I make my four miles? Could I complete it in 56 minutes? I didn’t know. At that moment, I wanted a stop sign, any stop sign. I had told myself deep inside that i couldn’t do it, and my body was being a good driver and obeying the rules of the road. It wanted to stop. I didn’t.

amazing that someone sees this out of their front door every day!
amazing that someone sees this out of their front door every day!

I remembered that I made a promise to be better, to do anything I tried to do. When my students say “I Can’t!” I remind them that means “I Certainly Am Not Trying” and so, they must not be putting in their best effort. Well what was I doing? I certainly was not putting in my best effort, nor was I believing in me. So I pushed. I ran. It hurt. “Just past that tree…just to that corner…” I kept telling myself these things to get through. I hit the 2 mile mark and turned around to head back. I looked at the open road ahead of me, and I went, I ran, 4-6 blocks of straight no stop running! It felt amazing. I ran up hills, down hills, and around corners. I arrived home with a time that was a little more than I wanted, but I finished. I do not know when in my mind exercise was supposed to be easy. It was just supposed to happen. I danced ballet, ran track in field, and marche din a marching band. All of that was easy. Why? because I had people in my corner, coaches, teachers, parents, support. I coach runners, I know it isn’t easy, but yet, my expectations of myself were, “if there is pain you stop.” instead of “no pain no gain”.

beauties of nature kept me going strong!
beauties of nature kept me going strong!

Now I know that sometimes pain can be real, and debilitating, I would never run if I were injured for real. these pains I speak of are sores and aches. Things that your muscles do when you push them. The way muscles grow, stretch and become stronger. I had forgotten…

my run, mapped out
my run, mapped out

SO I ran. farther than I have (in a single sprint), harder than I have (on any recent run), and hotter than I have (forgot to bring water!) I remembered that If I want to see a change, I have to be a change myself. I need to push, through pain, and through the barriers I have set for myself and just run…I do not have to win, I just have to finish, and today, I feel like I finished!

Me without my running shoes, ready to jump in a cold shower after my run!
Me without my running shoes, ready to jump in a cold shower after my run!

Mama Is Only Human

An introduction to my life and my new blog:

IMG_3384I am a mom. My three boys call me Mama. I am not sure why, but they do. I met their father, my husband, right out of high school. We dated, and eventually he proposed. A year later we were married, and a year after that we had our first child.

Being a mom became my world.

Our oldest was quick to learn, happy to help, and funny. Just before we had our second child, our oldest stopped talking. For a year we went through testing, and he was given a diagnosis of PDD -NOS which is a spectrum disorder, as well as sensory integration disorder. He went to speech therapy for 4 years and OT/PT for two years. He grew older, and we learned to manage. He still struggles with Sensory issues, and Executive Functioning skills (organizing thoughts and lists). He is a great student, and  is caring, and compassionate towards others.

Our second child was born in the spring, and from the start was just a happy boy. He was laid back, and went with the flow. He needed some medical intervention for ear infections and snoring. He has a milk allergy that gives him eczema and stomach issues. He wants life to be fair, and he struggles when it isn’t. He needs to know what is next, or he gets anxious. He is loving, has a great imagination and is a great friend.

Our youngest son is a miracle. Born early, he had issues with his eye sight, Mal-absorption,  low tone, and his hearing.   He spent a lot of time in the hospital and as he aged many of his issues disappeared. His hearing recovery was considered a miracle by the doctor, and I agree. He has since caught up with his peers in physical strength, and is almost caught up cognitively and socially at this point. One of his teachers described him as “Christmas morning every day.”

Once they were older (not that old), I decided to go back to school. It started with a teacher assistant certification course. After that course was finished, I felt drawn to do more. I thought I wanted to be a Speech and Language Pathologist, but as I worked in the school setting, I discovered that teaching is what I wanted to do. I am currently a full time teacher, and a full time student. My certification and experience as a teacher, art teacher, substitute teacher, and teachers aide have allowed my employer to have confidence in my skills. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach while completing my degrees. On top of this I am a wife, working hard to keep our marriage strong. We are doing this while managing his recent Diabetes Diagnosis and all that comes with it. I am also a daughter whose parents have had health issues recently. They are doing well now and that is a blessing. I like to run, but I also hate it. I wish I could say I was one of those people who fits a run in in-between work and school while making the boys a snack, but that would be a lie. I fit that in when I can, and right now am working toward my first half marathon. I am hoping for a 14 minute mile – if that tells you how much of a runner I am. I am also involved in many singing groups in our church. I sing solos, as a part of a group, and in the choir. Singing is a stress relief for me because I can be someone else. I can show my soul through words and melody intertwined together.

I am writing down my journey because I want to be a voice. There are many people who think they cannot do something. I want to show them that they can. Many times the reason for the cannot is time, money, ability, mental fortitude, or energy. I have used every one of these excuses in my day to day, but I am choosing an attitude of I can. I hope that I can inspire others to choose this attitude as well. My struggles, laid out, my joys lifted up, and my journey an open book. Come join me and see why Mama Is Only Human!   blog picture