Counting My Blessings

Leave a comment Standard

Three years ago, all of this was nothing but a dream. I was in a toxic on/off again relationship and renting a 950 square foot condo for me and my two kids. Then, in August, I decided to look online at houses in the area. I figured it was a pipe dream and I would, once again, be left longing.

But there is was, an awkward 187 year old bright blue house in my price range, sitting on the market just waiting for me. Three months later, I was moving in and on with my life. Two months later I met my husband who brought with him my bonus son.

The house is in constant disarray with half the neighborhood running in and out and all the animals living in various areas on the property. Laundry piles up and dishes sit in the sink. Corners fill with dirt and dog hair magically appears in the bathtub. The kid’s rooms smell like feet and their are turkeys living in their playroom. Even with all this, I couldn’t be happier.

We live an amazingly full life where we are constantly attending activities and school functions. Some weeks we aren’t home except to sleep, which only make days like these a welcome reprieve.

Days like these I can sit in the backyard, overlooking everything I have created and feel truly blessed. None of this was because of luck or because it was given to me. It all came about because I persisted. I refused to accept that what I had was all I ever would have.

Today, and every day, I count my blessings. I list them off in my head and thank each and every one of them. Because life is what we make of it, and it will never get better unless we allow it to. Allow yourself to let go of all the negative holding you back. Allow yourself to be independent and confident, to forge your own path. Allow yourself to do all the things, but don’t forget to be thankful for every little thing because those little thing build up to be big things and I’m living proof.

All Of These Emotions Are Normal: Getting Your Child The Help They Need

Comments 3 Standard

Having the suspicion that your child has a learning disability can be nervewracking. Having your child tested for learning disabilities can be emotional. Getting the confirmation that your child has learning disabilities can be a straight kick to the gut.

As a parent, all we want is for our child to do well in life and school. As they are babies, we dream of the day they get the “Good Reader” award in Kindergarten, make the honor roll in Junior High, and win a science scholarship in high school. We somehow manifest this perfect child in our minds where nothing bad can ever touch them. Then school age hits. You notice your child is struggling but you don’t want to see it. You start to see a trend in their grades, notes from the teacher, chats with the teacher’s aids…but you still don’t want to see it. You even start to see them struggling in the same areas you did when you were in school, so you look away even more. All of these emotions are normal.

As a parent of a child with documented learning disabilities, I went through all of these. Even after growing up in a family where more than one person had documented learning disabilities, I still went through all these emotions. There was no way my child was struggling because there was something “wrong” with him. My child was going to be that shining example of a student. To top it all off, there was no way any of this was MY fault. All of these emotions are normal.

When my son was in second grade, I finally put my emotions aside and stepped up to the plate. I had to do something to help my son. I was scared shitless and had no idea what steps I really needed to take. All I knew is I had to start somewhere. I advocated for him during parent-teacher conferences and finally convinced the school to test him. Yes, I had to CONVINCE the school. That was the first moment of clarity I had through the whole processes. That moment when I realized no one else had my son’s best interest at heart. No one else was going to figure out how to make learning better for him. No one else was going to get him the help he needed. It was up to me to make all this happen. *insert superhero music*

Even with this moment of clarity and the sudden superhero feeling, nothing could prepare me for when they gave me the test results. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I’m pretty sure I just sat there staring at the teachers sitting at the table with me. This one of the few times in my life I was actually speechless. They went over what the different results meant and what measures would be taken to help him overcome these issues.

In my mind, I desperately tried to find the reasoning behind all of this. Was it something I did while I was pregnant? Was it because I wasn’t a stay-at-home-mom when he was a baby? Did I not breastfeed him long enough? Did vaccines do this? Did my divorce cause this? I wanted a reason all of this happened, but there wasn’t one. All of these emotions are normal.

At first, I met with the school twice a year. Once in the fall, once in the spring. We combed through each aspect of his Individual Education Plan (IEP) with a fine-toothed comb. Everything he did was monitored and measured. He had certain times set aside each day to meet with different specialists. They helped him with his language deficiencies and worked with him on coping with his color blindness.

Initially, I was worried he would start to feel singled out from being pulled out of the classroom. As a young boy who often came home feeling like his classmates were laughing at him because he couldn’t read as fast as them, having him taken out of the classroom was a major concern for me. Luckily, he ended up finding comfort in the space away from the other students. There he didn’t feel pressured and could take the time he needed. As the years have gone by, his need for additional help has dropped off a bit. Instead of leaving the classroom several times a day, now he only leaves once. He is more confident in his abilities, making it easier for him to ask questions in class and ask for additional help when he needs it.

It has become so much like second nature to him, the other day he asked me why he even needs an IEP anymore. I explained to him that it’s what enables him to have extended testing times, the extra help with reading comprehension, and other parts he had “forgotten” were only applicable to him. We talked about his different deficiencies and how they make his learning style unique and how it will affect him all through his school years. I told him his IEP will follow him all through school, even if he gets to go to the same private high school I had gone to (a dream of his since he was 5), even through any SSATs, SATs, or ACTs he takes.

He then proceeded to poke fun at his different learning disabilities, showing me that they weren’t a disability for him at all. He realizes that all of this has helped to make him the student he is today. He knows his strong points and what he needs to work on. He is more aware of his learning needs than most 11-year-olds I know and I couldn’t be more proud of him. I’m glad I got over my personal fears as a mother and became his advocate. Even after he looked at me with a huge grin and said, “You know my learning disabilities are all your fault, right? No one in daddy’s family has any of these.” And then I threw him out of the car and made him walk to soccer practice. My response, “No honey, daddy’s family has their own set of issues you’ll learn about as you get to know them better.”

To any parent who suspects their child is having trouble in class due to learning disabilities, you are their only advocate. You have to be the one to talk with their teachers and have them tested. The worst thing that can happen is they can find ease in learning again. Yes, it is scary but you have to remember that it is scarier for you than it is for them. They are the ones who have been living with the frustration of not learning the way everyone else does. They are the ones who have been picked on for being slower on assignments. They are the ones living with learning disabilities day in and day out. As their parent, they look to you to help them. They need you advocate for them, to be pushy about getting them tested, to make sure they have all the resources they need to be able to finish school and become a productive member of society. All those emotions you are going through, they are all normal. It’s ok to be scared. It’s ok to feel like it’s your fault even though you know it’s not. It’s ok to cry through all of it. It’s ok to have a moment where you feel helpless. All of these emotions are normal, and so is your child. Learning disabilities don’t make them different or make you a bad parent.

If you suspect your child has learning disabilities or is struggling in school, act sooner rather than later. They will thank you for it at graduation.

 

 

 

The End Of The Apocalypse!!!

Comment 1 Standard

Hark! The After School Program Apocalypse is finally over!!! No more asking friends to watch my kids after school or, my boss’s favorite part, no more having them come to work with me!!! A truly joyous day! To celebrate I wrote a bus note, naturally.

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men? It is the music of a people who shall not be slaves again! When the beating of your heart, echoes the beating of the drums, there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!” (Les Miserables)

This is what I woke up singing this morning because the after school program is back on! *does the running man and high fives all the other parents* I will no longer feel bad for my poor unsuspecting friends who have to deal with the insatiable fighting intense diversity between my two urchins children. I will now stand tall with my proud mom flag flying, on my pedestal of glee, and announce:

“I hereby declare the after school apocalypse to be over!  Let it be known that from this day forward, Theo and Pheobe will joyfully delight Kate and Ella in the Camp Coniston After School Program! Where they take out their homework frustrations on someone other than myself, and be thoroughly and utterly  exhausted upon pickup! Hip, hip, hooray!”

On a side note, I said if all went well over the weekend, there would be pictures. So here is Theo in a bow tie. Please don’t tell him I showed you, or he may never speak to me again.

wedding

Thank you, Brandi (aka: Mom)

The Apocalypse and Necessity

Leave a comment Standard

image

“Day 2 of the after school apocalypse and the tribe is holding strong with multiple offers for child watching, the youngest members of the tribe have decided to go with necessity…the friend with the golf cart and pool. It’s all about priorities during these trying times. Therefore Theo will be taking the bus home with “telescope”. Thank you, Brandi ( aka mom)

Cock Swabs and Steamy Penis Creatures

Comments 4 Standard

I thought raising a penis person would be easy. I mean seriously, what’s there to know? Yes, there’s that whole spontaneous erection thing and wet dreams, but I didn’t think it would be much more than that. Now men, before you get your boxers in a bunch, I want to start off by saying women are complicated messes. We are like a magnetic compass, without the magnet. We tend to spin in circles, talking ourselves into a tizzy and crying because little Johnny killed a spider. With that being said, men…are simple. You grunt. You puff up your chests when another man looks at your woman. Do you even lift, bro? You compare penis sizes in the locker room. Girls do this as well, but with their boobs. It’s all so simple, or so I thought. What I didn’t know, is just how fascinated males, as a whole, are with their penises. Not to mention how literally they take the saying, “Reach out and touch someone (or something).”

As I’ve learned in my eight and a half years of raising a penis person, nothing about the penis is normal. Flash forward past the days of failed attempts with pee pee tepees, and watching my infant son pee in his own mouth and my eye at the same time. Past the point where I could trust my little guy to run around the house completely naked without the fear of him peeing in the cat dish. This is where I first started to notice just how fascinated with the penis these people are. There I was, a young mother of a two year old boy,sitting on the couch in the early morning hours feeling like death warmed over, and probably looking ten times worse. I watched as my son, completely oblivious to the fact it wasn’t even 5 am yet, joyfully frolicking about in the living room. I had since given up on drinking one cup of coffee at a time, and wandered into the kitchen to find a straw to stick in the pot. When I came back into the living room, coffee pot and straw in hand, I noticed my son doing push-ups in front of the tv. Baffled and amused, not to mention completely caught off guard, I couldn’t figure out why my toddler would be doing push-ups before the sun even came up. Of course I had also been trying figure out why his little mind thought it ok to be up for the day at 4 am for two years prior to this sudden oddity in behavior. Carry on, dear boy. Finish your push-ups and let’s have some breakfast. Then it hit me, he wasn’t doing push-ups. Oh, no! He was cock swabbing my carpet!!! I can only imagine this was all brought on by a quick tumble to the floor while I was in the kitchen, thus resulting in an unexpected “feel” of said carpet.

I have a vagina. I don’t “feel” anything with it. At least not randomly. It stays tucked away where it belongs. Away from random objects. Away from the elements. Away from, well, carpet. As my son continues to cock swab the perimeter of the living room,I can do nothing more than watch in disbelief. Perhaps this is why people call the penis a “third limb”. Either way, it’s gross and it’s weird.

Flash forward, yet again. Past the moment where little boys discover that nut shots are funny, as long as the shot isn’t on them. Past where they start pitching little tents in the morning, and you question why you have yet to buy them their own alarm clock. Let’s flip to last week. My son loves taking showers. The only argument we come across in the bathing aspect is what time of day to do it. He prefers night because it doesn’t waste his time in the morning. I prefer morning because it actually forces him to haul his carcass out of bed. Because I’m awesome and always win last Wednesday my son agreed to shower in the morning. Win! This is where I should add how he likes his showers so hot, I am amazed his skin doesn’t slough off while in there. As you all know, extremely hot water creates a LOT of steam. My bathroom often ends up resembling the Amazon Rain Forest in summer. It’s any wonder my son can safely climb out of the shower when finished, seeing as how one can barely see the edge of the tub through the steam.

I’m used to my son taking long showers. He likes to stay in to the point where the water starts to turn cold, and he knows he can’t go on any longer without the fear of sudden hypothermia. In all honesty, if I wasn’t the one paying the bill, I would probably do the same thing. However, this past Wednesday, something was off. Yes, his shower used all the hot water in the town, but for some reason he wasn’t coming out of the bathroom. I thought maybe I had a bad mom moment, and missed the sound of a dangerous fall, or perhaps the steam had swallowed him whole. So, yes, I had a slight moment of panic. I ran upstairs, threw open the door…..right into my son’s face! “Theo!” I said, “what are you doing?”

“Mommy! Nothing!” He then quickly wrapped himself back up in his over sized towel, and scurried out of the bathroom, throwing the door the rest of the way open. As soon as he was out of sight, I peeked around the back of the door to where he had been standing, naked. As I looked at the full length mirror, covered in condensation, I could see little marks all covering the area about where my son’s waist would be. Upon closer inspection I could see that the little marks were actually little penises. My dear sweet boy had been standing naked in the nice warm bathroom pressing his little penis against the mirror, so he could feel the coolness of the reflective surface and then get a chuckle out of the little shapes that resulted.

It is clear to me now that the need to stick penises places and feel things on it starts at a very early age. I can only imagine what else in my house has been cock swabbed and stamped. God help me when he figures out what masturbation is, and locks himself into his bedroom for hours. Boys are gross, boys are weird, and I am officially baffled by this thing called a penis.

Being A Mom Is Madness

Comments 2 Standard

I have to admit, I don’t always enjoy being a mother. In fact, there are some days I absolutely hate it. Those are the days I wish daycare was a 24 hour thing, and you only had to pick them up when you feel like it. The days where all I want to do is hide under the covers until they both disappear. I am stressed, pushed to my max capacity, and pretty sure my head is going to explode.

My typical week day starts at 5 am with a pot of coffee, and the intent to participate in some sort of physical exercise. All to often the extent of this is couch squats, where I get up and down from the couch to refresh my coffee, let the cat in/out, or go to the bathroom. I fold laundry, do the dishes, sweep the floor, put blankets away, and fix the couch cushions. By 6 am I am lumbering into the shower, with an industrial sized razor, to shave off the inch of hair that grew overnight and wash the key body parts. Arm pits, under boob, face, butt, and vagina; the usual. Dry off, get dressed, paint my face. And so the madness begins.

  • 6:30 am it’s time to wake the tiny people whose heads barely stick out from their mountain of blankets. This includes, but not limited to, singing at a high volume, bouncing them off their mattresses, throwing the cat on them, and stripping all blankets from their beds. Related, our house is usually between 57 and 60 degrees first thing in the morning. A brief weather report is recited before leaving them to get themselves dressed and downstairs. Breakfast, teeth brushed. Coats and boots on.
  • 7:25 am we are leaving the house to start our journey through the galaxy .
  • 7:40 am tiny person #1 is at preschool.
  • 7:45 am tiny person #2 is at elementary school.
  • 7:50 am I am at work. Paper work, spreadsheets, budgets, herding kittens, etc..
  • 4:35 pm it’s off to pick up #2 at after school care, followed by #1 at hers.
  • 5:15 pm home to start dinner.
  • 6:00 pm is time for the tiny people to clear off the table and set it; followed by dinner at 6:15 pm.
  • 6:45 pm table is clear and a previously designated tiny person and myself are doing dishes.
  • 7 pm showers and teeth.
  • 7:30 pm phone call from daddy 3,000 miles away.
  • 7:45 pm kids are duck taped snugly in their beds.

There are nights when I will fold more laundry, sweep the floors, etc., but in all honesty, I don’t feel like doing shit after 8 pm.

By the time Saturday rolls around, I’m toast. I don’t want to do anything but drink mimosas and eat grapes on the terrace which I don’t own.  I end up spending my days dreaming of a different life. Perhaps I have a nanny to help, or maybe even a healthier income that allows me to take my kids on weekend vacations. I dream of having someone around to help me in my daily endeavors of mommy hood. Someone who will have the toilet cleaned by the time I roll out of bed, and then offer to rub my feet. By the time I’m done daydreaming of ridiculous things it’s time to clean the toilet that won’t clean itself, wash more laundry, drive to basketball practice, hang out at the mountain as my son dreams of becoming the next Shaun White, wash the floors, maybe dust clean up tooth paste, grocery shop, and cook. I thank the good lord above when we are invited over to a friend’s house so i can forget about the mess that is my house for a few hours. Where my kids can run around with their friends, and there is a cold beer in my hand.

Now that I think about it, despite the non stop single action parenting I have going on, every Sunday night I climb into bed and smile. My kids went to bed happy, my house is clean-ish, and I’ve accomplished more than most double action parents I know. I keep the roof over our heads, the food on our plates, and the crayons in the living room. There isn’t a day where my kids don’t make me smile at least a dozen times, and my heart swells 10 times bigger every time they say “I love you mommy”. They are growing up to be independent functioning human beings. They can get their own breakfast, make mine, sweep the floors, fold laundry, put laundry away, help with dinner, set the table, do the dishes, make their beds, and feed the cat. They are loud and I want to strangle them, they are messy, like little tornadoes, and they tend to whine and cry. They’re children. They’re not perfect, and they’re not everyone’s cup of tea.

Despite my fleeting thoughts of running away, eating my kids, and hiding under the covers; being a mother is a pretty rewarding job. I look forward to seeing what they will both accomplish when they are older, and what kid of people they will turn into. With that being said, it would be nice to have a Fernando, a manny, a sugar daddy, or at LEAST win the lottery. I would even take little elves coming into my house, cleaning it, and putting dinner in the crock pot. A girl can dream, after all.

To My Son On His Birthday

Comment 1 Standard

To my son on his birthday,

It’s still hard to believe that just eight years ago you came into my life. A quiet little baby, you were put into my arms; swaddled and still. I promised you on that day I would do everything in my power to protect you and help you grow into a man. I know it hasn’t always been easy, and we don’t always see eye to eye, but you have been my greatest love. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of how wonderful you are, and how lucky I am to be able to call you “son”. As I watch you grow I worry if I’m doing everything I can to teach you what you need to know, and to give you the love and support you need.

As a mother it is hard to let your children venture out into the world when you’re not holding their hand. What if something happens when I’m not around? Do you know what to do? Have I taught you enough for you to get by? The answer is, I don’t know. It’s not because I haven’t taught you, or that you’re not capable of doing it. It’s because the world is ever changing, and I will never be able to teach you everything there is to know about everything. The best I can do is to teach you the difference between what’s right, and what’s wrong; between love and hate; and to follow what you feel is best. It’s up to you to take what I have taught you, and use it in a way that will help you in any situation you may come across. I won’t always be by your side to guide you and hold your hand. I won’t always be there to kiss you goodnight or hug you good morning. But I will always be with you in spirit.

I know you’re only 8 years old, but I want you to remember these simple rules in life. They may not seem like much now (and not nearly as exciting as a new Lego set) but when you get older, they will get you through some of the toughest times.

  1. Always be yourself. Even if you are wearing a uniform alongside a thousand other people, no one can ever be you.
  2. Know who you really are. This may be one of the most difficult things in life to master.
  3. You’re not always right. When you’re wrong, admit it. Admitting you’re wrong is one of the bravest things you can ever do.
  4. Love with your whole heart. It’s going to hurt like hell when you lose love, but you can’t let that stop you from loving completely.
  5. Compliment often. Too many people in this world are too concerned with themselves, and don’t take the time to let others know they care.
  6. Appreciate those around you. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but life is short. You never know when the person next to you will be gone.
  7. Be grateful for what you have. Always want the best in life, but don’t ever lose sight of everything you already have. Life itself is a gift, remember that.
  8. Say “Thank You”. It doesn’t matter if someone gave you a gift or just dusted a fly off your shoulder, say “thank you” and smile.
  9. Never forget where you came from. You can never change it, and it is what makes you who you are.
  10. Say I love you, even when you’re mad. When you wake up (because bringing in a new day with those you love is wonderful), when you go to bed (because one of you might not wake up the next morning), and most importantly, before you leave for the day (because death can come in the blink of an eye, it may be the last thing you ever say to them).

You are becoming such an amazing young man. I hope these rules will help guide you to be even more amazing. Never give up on yourself or stop believing you make a difference. I will love you to the end of time, and back. Happy birthday.

Love always,

Mommy

birthday