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?

Cruel Devil Music – a play on words

When you have a child that has struggled with everything external, you rejoice when others “get” them.

We have a tradition in our family of listening to “iTunes” radio while we drive. It means we are not listening to the same music over and over, and we often find new favorite songs. Last school year we had a 45 minute drive to and from school. With three boys in the car mama had to find some way to stay sane.

a pixilated picture of his music...
a pixilated picture of his music…
My boys loved listening to Disney radio on iTunes radio because they knew most of the songs. We would play “Name that tune” and try to guess the name of the song, or the movie the song was from, or what character sang it, or what was happening in the movie/show at that time. My oldest really enjoyed when Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians came on. He would talk about how great that would sound if he could play it. He said it sounded like a really tough piece to play. I encouraged him to ask his teacher. Last year he did not believe he could ask her, or play it. This year, I again encouraged him, and he went for it. One month into lessons, his teacher found the sheet music for him. He has loved learning it, and has until June to perfect it as he and she have already decided he will do it for the recital.

Why is this important?

Because my oldest has sensory integration disorder, and the fact that he can even play piano is wonderful. the sound was a sound that bothered him years ago.  Also because his teacher takes in his sometimes quirky requests and embraces them. She knows her students and is always willing to find a way to make learning piano interesting for them. This means that my boys enjoy piano lessons and practice because they love the music they are playing.

Music is so important for learning because it is a whole other dimension for my boys. They get to use many senses all at once to create music. They are learning a skill they will never regret by learning to read music. I feel that they are learning to become better thinkers as the problem solving music involves, the quick thinking, and the physical repetition helps them to grow. I also enjoy hearing them play as I know how hard it can be, and I am amazed at what they are capable of.

The have other skills as well. They run track, and cross country, read books, color/create, do origami, and play video games (full disclosure),  but we often forget that there are other dimensions to learning. We need to remember that their interests are important to encouraging continued growth. They can grow from the opportunities we present them.

Life

Music

Choices

All of these help our children to grow…all of them.

And for your viewing pleasure, my oldest attempting to play this very difficult piece. Practice makes perfect only if we keep correcting and trying!

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