Friday, August 5, 2011

Dear Meryt

Dear Meryt,

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that next week you will be a kindergartener. I knew this day would come. I've anticipated it for so long and I am beyond excited for you! I know you are going to absolutely love school. I just can not imagine what it will be like. The types of stories you will tell in the afternoon. Helping you with your homework. Working on projects with you. Taking you to cultural events. Washing and hanging your uniforms. The kids that are going in to 5th grade called you "baby Meryt" because you were so little when I taught them. It will be so weird for you to transition from calling all the adults I'm closest to "Mrs. First Name" to "Mrs. Last Name." We've been working on it, but I know there will be times when you just can't help calling your dance teacher "Mrs. Lindsay" or your first baby sitter "Miss Jana."

You are literally a {School Name} baby. You've been in that building since you were born. In fact, I was so proud of you that we stopped by to show you off to the office staff on our way home from the hospital. You were barely 2 days old and you were in that building! Last year, Daddy brought you to me almost every afternoon. In so many ways, you are probably the best prepared kindergartener--as far as knowing what to expect. You've just about seen it all!

I wonder if you're anxious. Do you feel confident? Do you wonder about the kids in your class? Do you feel any tension at all about the subtle shift that is going to take place next week in your life? This is really the first big "milestone" in your life. The first day of school. This will never happen again. I will never be able to say, "She's going to kindergarten next year." It's here. It's time.

I am so excited for you. I want this to open up a whole new world for you...a world of new facts, new experiences, new challenges. You are, truly, standing at the beginning of an incredible journey. I want this to be the fullest, most wonderful time of your life. It's amazing to me, that after 11 years of teaching, I'm the most excited about this year of any I've ever taught. I want for my students the same thing I want for you--the best experience possible. I have you to thank for invigorating me in a new and exciting way!

I love you, precious girl. I absolutely can not wait to see how this goes for you.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Some public school thoughts...


My goodness.

My public school teacher heart is hurting right now!

I've heard more than one time, two times, three times, lately about how parents feel they need to pull their special needs kids out of public schools and home school them or find alternative schooling options for their kids. What in the world is going on here? It is our job as public educators to educate every single child that comes through our program. It is our job to FIND WHAT WORKS for these kids.

One thing I just read that was super discouraging was that the special needs kid was out of the classroom receiving so much "support" that he wasn't getting the academics he needed. How can that be? Why aren't the specialist going into the classroom to help him so he's being double teamed? What happened to co-teaching? If a child is able to be in a regular ed classroom for his/her academics, but needs support, why is that not happening for him/her?

I'll be honest. I'm just a regular teacher. I absolutely do not know the ins and outs of Autism, Speech Delays, Dyslexia, ODD, ADHD...I can't. It's my job to know the standards that are required for completion of kindergarten and make sure my kids can do those! When I'm overwhelmed by the special needs of some of my students, it's my job to call in the experts.

Is that a process? Yes!
Does it take a long time? YES! Sometimes too long!

It disturbs me greatly that parents are pulling their kids out of public education because we aren't meeting their academic needs. I think sometimes parents expect the public school system to do TOO much. But it is our job to educate the public. To provide for the educational needs of every single child that comes to us for service. Have I wanted to pull out my hair before because of one of my students? You can bet your very last dollar I have! Have I been frustrated beyond exasperation because of something that's gone on or a difference I have with a parent? YES! But at the end of the day, the end of the year, it's my job to teach. And it's my job to work with parents to make sure that happens. I hate that parents who have children with specific needs don't feel like the school system is meeting them where they are or working with them to make the experience the best it can be for their children.

Friday, July 29, 2011

No if...when

I'm cleaning out the house as we prepare for a yard sale tomorrow. My goal was to try to get rid of at least 1/2 the stuff we own, either donating it or selling it. I think I 1/8 of what we own.
But what's most astonishing to me is that I am completely, one hundred percent okay with getting rid of baby stuff. There is no feeling of "what if there's another baby?" If there's another baby, it won't have the massive quantity of stuff Meryt and Luke have had. If there's another baby, most of what it has will be borrowed or bought second hand. If there's another baby, we'll know we don't need as much gear as we thought we'd need. If there's another baby, we'll be shocked beyond belief! :)
For the first time in about 5 years, there is absolutely no looking to the future, wondering "if...when." The wish has been granted. The prayer answered.
It is well...with my soul.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Maybe, Day 23



Saturday, May 14, 2011

Maybe, Day 14

I'm certainly not doing a good job of posting every day!! MAYbe I shouldn't have committed! :)

MAYbe time is going by entirely too fast!

I'm the mama of a 5 1/2 year old who knows more than I do about almost everything. I was corrected more today by Meryt than I was my entire high school career by all my teachers. I feel like she thinks I can do no right. We were at odds almost all day. I think the biggest problem is that I am constantly caught off guard by her. She never does or says what I would predict she would do or say, so I'm always playing catch-up. I'm struggling with disciplining her so she's not a brat and encouraging her personality without stiffling her. Dwayne and I don't want a brat for a child, but we don't want to break her either. There is a fine line there. I will not tolerate her being disrespectful, which is where she bordered today--she knew where the line was and she was constantly putting her toe right on it. Usually it's not quite so brazen. I think she thought because she threw up again this morning, I was going to let her get away with whatever she felt like saying today. NOT GOOD.

And Luke...oh, my! He's 6 months old and MAYbe we've turned a corner. Gone is that constant crying, miserable, hurting little baby. We definitely still have moments that transport me back to those first few weeks/months. My body gets tense and I want to throw myself on the floor and cry, too. But the laugh...OH, the laugh! It MAYbe the most delightful sound I've ever heard. I love his extremes. I love that he's never just in the middle, hanging out. He's either screaming bloody murder (don't like so much) or he's giggling his head off (my favorite thing in the world).

MAYbe Luke's favorite toy is Meryt. They giggle and play together right now. I know it might not last. Meryt's self-esteem is boosted by the hero-worship of her little brother. Tonight she was jumping up and down and he was laughing like that was the funniest thing in the world. She exclaimed "Mama, he thinks I'm the best jumper ever!" This encourages her to continue to play with him and show off for him, which gives him much more interaction than I could offer on my own. I know there will be at time, probably when Luke can take Meryt's things, that all of this will change, but I'm going to enjoy every second of it now.

I thought MAYbe you'd want to see how much Luke has grown in the past few months. Just a little comparison pictures.

Luke, January 9, 2 months old

Luke, February 9, 3 months old

Luke, March 9, 4 months old

*so sad...skipped 5th month*

Luke, May 9, 6 months old

I'm not sure, but I think I notice the biggest difference between the 3 month picture and the 4 month picture. Do you see the difference in his little chunky thighs?

And right now he's the perfect image of snuggly goodness. He loves to be held while he dozes off and he gets heavier and snugglier the more tired he gets. I LOVE IT. He also doesn't mind the head on the shoulder position, so as he gets drowsy, I can move him from an arm hold to his head on my shoulder...MAMA HEAVEN. Because his beginning was so difficult, I'm enjoying this phase even more.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Maybe, Day 10

I was a bit too raw to post yesterday.

I HATE dealing with my inadequacies as a teacher. I want to think I can change the world.

But MAYbe I can't.

And I hate admitting that.

I have a student with SO much potential. The kid is brilliant. Even at 5, I can tell (s)he will have a huge impact on this world. Unfortunately, the home environment for this kid is not a healthy one. There is too little parental supervision. There are too many accidents because a parent isn't around enough. I'm in no way suggesting the parents are the cause of the accidents. I honestly think they are working, trying to provide for their kids.

Yesterday I ran into the wall of "I can't do any more." I'd reached the end of what I am able to do as a teacher. I can't take this child. I can't change his/her world. I've done what I can, perhaps making a different for him/her, perhaps failing miserably at times. I didn't like feeling powerless to make this life a little better for my kiddo.

Today was better. MAYbe it's good for me to have a little perspective. MAYbe I needed a moment of discomfort, of realizing that I am limited. I still don't like it. I still want to have more power to do good for my kids. But I know this...the reminder that I have limits will push me to do even more within my boundaries, to love a little more, to be a little more patient, to demand a little more. I know I often fail. But I want my students to have incredible memories of school, of learning, of knowing that they were loved and cared for every single day. Perhaps, MAYbe, that will be enough. MAYbe that will change a world in the end, even if not right now.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Maybe, Day 8

MAYbe this will post before midnight! :)

MAYbe I'll upload some pictures tomorrow.

Two years ago, I sobbed while singing Blessed Be Your Name. My favorite line is "You give and take give and take away. Blessed be your name."

My womb had been full. More than once. And my womb would be empty. More than once.

I learned a valuable lesson in that trial. I learned that even in the darkest times in my life, when I was struggling so much to see the good, the plan, I could, I WANTED to praise my God. Trust me, that didn't come from me. I didn't wake up with a tear stained face and tear soaked pillow and jump out of bed singing praises to God. Oh, no, I did not. But there was a constant tug in my heart to choose praise. To trust in Him. To carry my burden to the cross and lay it down.

And today, while I was singing Blessed Be Your Name, tears streamed down my face again. Today it was because I know how very blessed I am. I know what it felt like to desire something so deep in your heart that there was an ache there. I know what it's like to pray every day, sometimes every moment of every day, while holding your belly that you would actually get to meet and love that baby. And today I cried because my heart was so full. Today, my dream is true. I am a mama to not one, but two sweet babies. I squeezed in as much snuggle time as I could with Luke and Meryt, smelling them, kissing their sweetness, giggling at their funniness.

And I realize that MAYbe there are many people out there who are struggling to praise in their darkness. MAYbe there are women out there who could not rejoice in motherhood today because their hearts are so burdened with loss. I'm praying for those women right now. That in their trial, they will feel the tug to praise. They will know the cross. They will know the only One who can ease their pain.

I'm praying beyond MAYbe. I'm praying for "Yes, I do know Him. Yes, I do trust Him. Yes, I can praise Him when it hurts."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

May, Day 7

Okay, MAYbe I can't keep up with every day. But that's ok. I'll just start again and pick up where I left off.

Last week was CRAZY busy. MAYbe I stuffed too many things into not enough days! I like to be busy, so I tend to stuff our days full of things to do. Then the cycle gets out of control, like a merry-go-round, and I realize I'm standing in the middle of my life watching it spin wildly out of control around me.

So, today, MAYbe we'll stay in our pajamas all day and catch our breath.

MAYbe I'll get recaught up on my laundry. MAYbe I won't.

MAYbe I'll let Meryt watch a movie while I snooze on the couch. MAYbe I won't. MAYbe we'll play games all afternoon.

MAYbe I'll get some pictures off my camera and share some sweet goodness called my children.

Oh...and MAYbe...just maybe Luke-ster has a tooth or two.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Maybe, Day 3

MAYbe I stayed out too late last night and skipped my MAYbe post for May 3.

MAYbe we had a great time together as a family.

MAYbe I'll post pictures tonight!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Maybe, Day 2

MAYbe I didn't feed Meryt dinner tonight until almost 9:00. MAYbe it's 9:11 and I'm just getting ready to read her a bedtime story. MAYbe my to-do list is still atleast 10 things long and 9.5 of them MUST be done tonight. MAYbe I should manage my time a little better.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Maybe, Day 1

MAYbe...A month of possibilities

Day 1

After a pretty tremendous meltdown yesterday (mine, unfortunately), I realized I have completely let this family slide into some pretty atrocious habits. It happened in the busy-ness of life, innocently at first, as most bad habits start. It certainly wasn't intentional, they were born during moments of survival, but the results of my lackadaisical parenting became glaringly apparent yesterday.

In my fit of rage {The dog ate my lunch, which I asked Meryt to watch while I ran upstairs to help Luke go to sleep. When I came downstairs, her eyes were glued to the TV and the dog was happily gobbling my Five Guys small bacon cheeseburger with grilled onions and mushrooms.}, I made some rash decisions. Now that I've had time to calm down, I realize that despite my rage, the decisions and consequences are valid and necessary. I did apologize to Meryt for screaming like a crazy woman. She accepted my apology gracefully and said next time she'd watch my lunch more carefully. Our relationship is restored. :)

So, today was our first full day of living with my changes.

MAYbe good things will come.

Changes: Results

No TV for a week: We were 10 minutes early to church today. We've never been 10 minutes early to anything. This decision was not made in the rage, but after. I've known for a while that we all watch way too much TV. I don't want to rely on the TV so much this summer, so I decided to go cold turkey and just keep it off. I was in desparate need of a nap this afternoon, so I did let Meryt watch a movie while I snoozed on the couch during Luke's nap time. Other than that, that was the only time the TV has been on in almost 36 hours. MAYbe no TV will be a good thing.

All meals at the table: Meryt actually ate breakfast and lunch. This was a decision that was definitely made in the moment of crazy-mama-red-faced-screaming. It probably sounded something like "AND-WE-WILL-NEVER-EAT-IN-FRONT-OF-THE-TV-AGAIN. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER." While I didn't handle it well, this will ultimately be a good decision. Since H has been working in the evenings and all weekend, Meryt and I have been entirely too relaxed about our meals. We've picked up more Chick-fil-A than I care to admit. We've eaten cereal for dinner or had cheese sandwhiches for lunch and peanut butter and jelly for dinner. TIME TO CHANGE. MAYbe this will force my hand. We both ate lunch together today...I had to leave the table a little early because Luke was fussy, but she sat there until her meal was finished. My goal is to plan our meals for the week and have everything ready to prepare before I leave for work. That way when I get home, I can just throw our dinner together quickly. MAYbe meals at the table will be good thing.

We had a super day today. I'm very hopeful for May. I feel that it is full of MAYbe's...possibilities. I don't know what's to come. Meryt isn't upset about the TV situation. Not like I thought she'd be. I honestly thought she would ask every 2 minutes to watch one of her shows. She spent lots of time playing with Luke this afternoon. She spent a lot of time just sitting on the couch talking to herself. MAYbe she'll discover the thousands of toys in the cubbies this week.

I don't feel like MAYbe is in the gray area between yes and no. I feel like it's the colorful, rainbow area of possibility. It could be anything. And there is fun to be had in the anticipation.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Maybe: A Prologue

I'm going to commit to posting every day in May.

MAYBE I'm nuts.

MAYBE I've lost my mind.

MAYBE it will be really good for me.

I can't believe I haven't posted anything since January. That is certainly the longest I've ever neglected this sweet place that holds so many memories.

For a while, I thought MAYBE I was ready to let it go.

Then I realized, MAYBE I'm not.

The theme for May is MAYBE. I'm not sure where I'll go with that. I'm not sure if I'll be more word oriented or more picture oriented. I'm just ready to sit down and go along for the ride. It will be whatever it is.

Just a quick update:
Meryt is 5 1/2. She's completely ready for kindergarten, but loving these last few weeks of 4K. She's had the best year ever. She is also the best big sister in the world, without a doubt. She had a flair up with her kidney troubles a couple of weeks ago. We're scheduling her kidney surgery this summer. MAYBE I'll blog about that.

Luke is 5 months old. He's sleeping in his bed all night long (well, from 9-5:30, then back to sleep until about 7). He loves girls and he loves to eat. Suddenly, he's the happiest baby. I'm glad we survived the worst infant-hood ever. MAYBE I'll share some cuteness soon.

H has been super busy and we haven't seen him much lately. My admiration for single mothers has increased tremendously. MAYBE I'll show pictures of what he's been doing.

I'm looking forward to the end of school this year. I LOVE my class so much and will miss them tremendously, but I am ready to get our house clean and to get the kids on a good schedule. I feel like we've been floating along in the rapids since Luke's arrival. I'm ready for a little bit of stability and cleanliness around the house. MAYBE I'll lock us in for the first few days of summer and really work on family stuff.

Maybe I let my kids stay in their winter pjs (that don't match) all day...

and maybe I don't.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

God is in the details

Before I even knew there would be a need, God was working out the details.

I was opening a week's worth of mail today when Dwayne said, "I think you have a check in there from your doctor's office."

"Nah," I thought. "I still owe them money," I said aloud.

The envelop was about halfway through the stack of junk mail, bills, and cataloges. It sure did look like a check, but that's so odd.

And then I opened it.

And it's an answer to prayers.

Before I even knew we would need some extra money in the upcoming months so we could visit my dad, God was working out every single detail.

The check from my doctor will cover two (T.W.O.!!!) visits to my dad. Almost to the dollar.

Dwayne and I talked on the way home Sunday afternoon about how much money we needed to budget for our next trip to visit my dad. And about how many times we thought we'd go down to see him in Jacksonville.

We decided on a certain amount of money. And that we'd try to budget for two trips.

That's EXACTLY what the check will cover.

I cried.

Do you understand the significance here?

I thought I still owed my doctor money. NOPE. God took care of that.

We needed X amount of money from our already strapped budget to cover two trips to see my dad (trips that we feel are not negotiable...that we need to take). No need to stress. God took care of that.

God worked out every single detail for us. We know God is in the miracles (Luke's conception, Luke's full term pregnancy and healthy delivery, my dad's new lungs...big stuff, people). But, He's also in the tiny, dirty, nitty-gritty details. He's THERE. He's working things out for us even before we know we need something worked out.

I am so very thankful. SO very thankful.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So many thoughts

Many of you probably already know that my dad, OB, had a double lung transplant on Monday, January 17, 2011.

48 hours ago we were anxiously waiting for any word from his transplant surgeon.

24 hours before that, this picture was taken:

OB and Luke

(6:00 pm 1/16/2011)

I have so many thoughts I want to share. So many details that I never want to forget.

Mom and Dad (Nona and OB) got the call from the May0 Clinic as they were waking up Monday morning. OB called us as we were waiting for this:

I was standing in the waiting room, waiting for the radiology nurse to come get us for Luke's upper GI test. He was fretful, Dwayne and I were taking turns walking him around, when my phone rang. A bit unusual to have a call from my dad so early in the morning.
"We got the call," was my dad's greeting.
"The call for what?" I responded.
"From the Mayo Clinic. Okay, bye. Love you." Click.
I was so shocked that I didn't get to deliver my very thought out speech I had prepared to share with him. I immediately asked Dwayne to call the church to get out a prayer e-mail.

At that point, Luke fell apart, screaming and crying. I was cuddling him and crying (as I was thinking, I don't want my dad to die) when the nurse walked in. She thought I was crying for Luke.
"Honey, this test is not that big a deal."
Blubber, sob, blubber.
"Oh...I'm not crying for him. He's going to be fine. I'm crying because my dad is going to have a lung transplant today!" BLUBBER, S.O.B.
Her immediate response was "PRAISE GOD! PRAISE GOD!"
God had sent me an angel in the flesh. When the devil was planting seeds of doubt in my mind, God was sending me my very own angel to remind me to praise Him!

17 years ago on January 17, 1994, my dad was diagnosed with puliminary fibrosis. Exactly 17 years later, he got new lungs. Don't tell me God isn't in the details.

From the months before my dad's diagnosis, God was preparing our family for this journey. Actually, from the beginning of time, the Lord knew that steps we would take, but let's focus on the fall of 1993 and move forward. Well, it really starts before then...the story is so large and so grace-filled that I don't even quite know where to start.

In October 1993 (on my 16th birthday!), we moved from a house with stairs at every entrance to a ranch style house with only one tiny step at the entrance. This would prove to be an important move. At this point, my dad seemed healthy, but Mom noticed that he was coughing a lot. She thought he must have walking pneumonia and told him she was making an appointment for him when he came home for the holidays. (My dad was working in a town 5 hours away and commuting each weekend...that's another God inspired decision for my parents.)

When Dad was home for an extended vacation during the Christmas holidays (1993), he went to his regular doctor to check on the coughing and shortness of breath. It was the appointment that would change his life. The doctor realized pretty quickly that something was very wrong and sent my dad to a specialist. My dad never returned to his job.

On January 17, 1994, he was diagnosed with puliminary fibrosis. They (always a mysterious they) aren't sure what caused the disease...he might have been born with it or it might have been caused by chemical exposure on his job.

The doctors were able to pretty quickly stop the progression of the disease and for many years, my dad just lived a modified life style that allowed him to have a fairly decent quality of life. Granted, he relied very heavily on medicine to have that quality of life, but he enjoyed seeing all of his children graduate from high school and college, two of us get married and start our families, one of us graduate from the police academy...he's been actively involved in our maturity into adulthood. He would have missed many of our "milestones" if he'd still been healthily working hours away from our hometown. Instead, he was there. THERE. For everything. He never missed a play, a ball game, a special event. Despite being sick, he was present. God made that happen for our family. He designed a life path that forced a workaholic father to be present.

There were scary times during the past years when his disease would rear its terribly ugly head and he would have a rapid decline in lung capacity. There was a drug trial from a university with meetings from drug companies and refrigerated medicine boxes delivered to the house. There were mistakes in dosage that resulted in manic cleaning episodes and night terrors. There are funny stories that only our family can laugh about because the only other option was to cry. Dad chose to laugh, so we chose to laugh. God was there. He was in the details.

Then a few years ago, something changed. The disease wasn't being managed by the medicine any more. The doctor in Savannah realized he'd come to the end of his expertise and it was time to call in the Big was time for drastic measures. So, the doors were opened for a relationship between my dad and the Mayo Clinic. (Ironically...or not, a lady that my mom taught with for years had a heart transplant at the same facility with the same group of surgreons and was a source of tremendous knowledge for my parents. God in the details...again.) 18 months ago, my parents took a trip to meet with the doctors. At first, they determined that my dad was eligible for a transplant, but not a candidate yet. They wanted to try a few things to manage the disease. Six months later, his status changed and in January 2010, he was placed on the transplant list.

12 months later, the call that we've all been waiting for finally came.

And today...48 hours after the new lungs have been transplanted, my dad was sitting up in a chair, talking to us on the phone, eating applesauce and drinking gingerale. He was moved from his ICU room into a regular hospital room. Tomorrow, three days post transplant, he will work with the physical and respitory therapists to practice walking and breathing with his brand new, perfect, beautiful lungs.

We are so very thankful for the gift of the donor family. We will never meet them. Never know the story of their loved one who gave my dad a new lease on life. But we will forever be thankful to them. So very, very thankful. They have, literally, given the gift of life. God was in that detail, too.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Out of the fog

I can't believe Luke is 2 months old. Yesterday was the big day.

Two can it be?

Yet, I'm so thankful we survived it.

I've never, in my entire life, been so tired for so long.

I feel like we're finally emerging, a tiny bit, from that newborn {infant} foginess that goes with having a new baby. We're not in the clear yet. Not even close. But the world is a little sharper. A little less fuzzy around the edges. I can actually remember a conversation I had a few minutes ago instead of it slipping away immediately.

As the world is coming into focus again, I realize how incredibly in love I am with this little guy.
His first few weeks and months have been trying...absolutely. He doesn't feel good. He has terrible reflux. He doesn't really like to sleep and he doesn't understand the concept of schedule. The combination of these things has caused me more stress than I can dare to express. There have been nights when I just sit up, squeezing him in my arms (because he likes the be held T.I.G.H.T.), rocking back and forth, praying for the grace to make it one more moment. And I do. Every single time.
Just a moment ago, Dwayne was feeding him and then putting him to sleep. My heart squeezed tightly in my chest with love.

Here are a few pictures of our precious boy.

Tired after watching the circus for 2 hours. We all loved the circus!

Just some strong man cuteness. Meryt used to hold her arms JUST like this.

I just missed his "almost" smile. It's super sweet.
We don't see it often enough.

Sleeping in the swing....the only place he'll sleep.

His one month old picture. It was a little late, so the comparison between one and two months will be a little off. Two month picture coming soon.

Sleeping sweetness.

I am NOT a turkey! Love this picture! :)