Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Picking up where we left off

Sometimes friends leave you better than they found you. 
I can definitely say this of the decade plus relationship our family has had with the Hunter family. 
I’ve written before how two novice teachers thrown into the deep end of the pool established a friendship that has spanned babies, moves, deaths, and many a teaching story. 
Over the holiday weekend I drove the boys down to stay at Laura’s mom’s beach house on Oak Island,NC.  Want to talk about a Mondo dream, design the blueprints for your own beach house to include an elevator.  
Between our 5 boys under the age of 6 was a LOUD but amazing time to catch up. 
One of the things I love about our friendship is we just pick up from the last text, Facebook comment, or someone driving through town.  
Big thanks to her husband Mike who proved he is a twin + 1 dad with the best. Within 30 mins of arriving we had hit the beach with kids in tow for an afternoon of boy craziness. 
Ben and Eli were fearless in the water and played for hours on end together.  Ben now wants Eli's prized possession, a giant plastic chain used for oh so many activities.  

Ben's confidence was at an all time high, as was behavior until a packing the car to leave meltdown of epic proportion. 

Try not to break out into Michael Jackson's "Who's Bad" at the perpetually shirtless Ben and Eli.

Toddler Twins Leo (as well as Max and Ian) oscillated between snacking, digging in the sand, and getting close but not into the water. Did I mention snacking? 

3 sand covered toddlers = 3 very happy boys.  Tell me those matching bodysuits with flames are not the bomb.  

This entire family has a positiveness and resilience that is contagious.  An hour conversation with Laura inspires me not to settle for complacency in my classroom, with my kids, or even with my marriage. 
Serious props to Laura for not only being her district teacher of the year but also K-12 Social Studies Teacher of the year for the ENTIRE State of NC in 2012.  In her role she will serve on the teacher advisory panel to our State General Assembly.  Is anyone embodies grassroots ability to mobilize, it’s Laura.   If anyone can bring attention to a current detrimental education Bill #795 before our state Senate, she can.    
Thank you Hunter family for sharing your home with us as well as your lives.  We are all better for knowing your amazing family. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Since I had the day off to deal with several appointments I took the opportunity to volunteer with Ben’s class.  Bill and I have been very fortunate that despite both having full time jobs once a month one of us has been able to volunteer and have lunch with Ben. 
We are almost a full week into the first medication trial.  Yesterday I was able to observe first hand how much better his concentration was in literacy centers. Instead of us normally having to finish homework once home during the 5-7 pm dinner/bath shuffle he finished.  He actually even finished EARLY and had free choice centers. 
Granted this is the first medication and because this version is time released when he crashes, he does hard with uncharacteristic sobbing and ramped up arguing.  I’ve been solo parenting most nights due to Bill’s work so needless to say I’ve been seriously tired.  Ben is still having noncompliance issues with the first hour of the day being argumentative with the teachers in specials (art, PE, music.)
When we meet back with his pediatrician we want to address if extended release versus multiple day dosing would address these issues.  Side effects have been a mixed bag and long term we will work to accommodate.
As I was about to leave yesterday his teacher pulled me back to her desk and said that everything from the contract at school, the task list at home, and now adding the mediation has helped beyond what she could have imagined so quickly.   
I regret that Ben’s kindergarten year and start to his time in school has been so hard for him. It breaks my heart to see how much he has tried and failed over and over this year.  Part of me wishes we had not taken until spring to start a med trial. 
On the flip side I’m also glad that we worked through the process because we are not medicating in a vacuum.  The in and out of school behavior strategies are a solid base to carry into summer and into a new 1st grade this fall. 
While it’s been difficult for us and his teacher to manage and try new methods and strategies, it’s been most difficult for Ben.  For the first time consistently this year he feels good about himself and his choices.    
This is a WIN WIN situation, especially as Summer Camp Mommy is about to start.  I’m taking away that this entire year has been a process to unpack with Bill and I in agreement over how to proceed.  
I’m driving the boys over the holiday weekend to see friends at the beach.  I’ve already warned our host that we are in the middle of a med trial.  She quickly reminded me that she is contributing twin toddlers and that together we will be 2 moms and 5 boys under the age of 6.
 All bets are off for a LOUD weekend. 
Happy holiday weekend all. 


Monday, May 21, 2012

Driving by

A quick check in given it's been a week and I've been MIA to returning emails, voicemails, basically anything requiring communication outside my immediate family. 

I'm still here, just been buried under a lot of end of year school work and ongoing issues at home.  No issues of the horrible bad sort, just of the time-consuming, emotionally draining type. 

Last week wrapped up of 8 sessions of family therapy and started the first medication trial with Ben after a lengthy pediatrician visit.  The jury is still out after only a few days on med 1. We go back after a full week to consider another strength or option. Much of the last couple of months feels like one step forward and two back as we try to figure out the pieces to the puzzle.

I don't regret a minute that we are doing this now and not banging our heads for another school year.  The positive is that Ben is very proud of his good decisions and is quick to point out when we catch him being good.  I'll also add that in the most bizarre of ways working through some hard parenting has helped Bill and I partner together in other areas. 

Back later this week, maybe.  Keeping us in clean underwear is tops as priority, so is wrapping up my school year and helping Ben end his in a positive place.   

Thanks for continued good thoughts that we are working towards a measurable goal for our family. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day (Full) Filled

I have been preparing for upcoming mother's day as it would be the first without my mom. I didn't want sadness or regret to eat away at the weekend so I started thinking about a way I could honor her as well as set an example for my boys.

It was happenstance that a friend told me about a pay it forward event with her kids organized by her church. Perfect timing. Over the week leading up to mother's day weekend I planned several family events.

Event 1: My college friend Michelle celebrates her daughter's adoption each year by sending a large package of toiletries every mother's day. I asked if the V boys could help put together a donation of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and kid band aids. Ben was overly concerned the kids wouldn't understand how to use a toothbrush, so he included directions.

Event 2: Our local SPCA hosts a Pet Pals club that allows elementary students to volunteer and learn more about taking care of animals. We took an donation of paper towels, hand sanitizer and enjoyed playing with kittens and puppies before leaving.

Event 3: Volunteering with the NC Food Bank. We bagged cucumbers and then MORE cucumbers for local agencies. We were excited to find out that Kid's Saturday is every month, thus making our big summer list.
Event 4: Sunday we celebrated at a local park feeding ducks, playing on the playground, eating ice cream and taking out a paddle boat. We paid it forward for another family to enjoy the boats before we left.

Over the week Ben and I talked about doing for others in the context of loving our friends/family. We talked about how doing nice things for people, even if we don't know them personally, is a way to show our love for them. We talked about ways we can make volunteering our time a part of family activities.

Among the gifts included a bouquet of flowers from the just blooming hydrandras in our yard, a secret package containing a heart and message beside my bed from Ben, a new frog aptly named Mr. T for our pond, and a message that a donation in my mom's name had been given by my MIL to the American Diabetes Association.

I was speechless and my heart was full. Even on this bittersweet day I was surrounded by love.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bring the Funny

Last night I had the chance to get my love on of This American Life.

Kudos to an amazing show that featured some of my favorite contributors as well as some new faces.

One of the things I LOVE about TAL is that you truly never know where the theme will take you. You can just expect that the stories will amaze you, inspire you, and make you want to examine your own mundane life.

While I loved Mike Birbigulia's parody of Fresh Air and David Sedaris never disappoints, my favorite performances were two new stories.

An AMAZING story of street photographer Vivian Meier. I think I could have just heard her story and looked at her pictures for the rest of the evening.

I HOPE that TAL will post some examples of her work.

Then there was this piece of funny from Tig Notaro. Seriously it will make every bit of your Friday better.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Like the sun on my face

***I'm been sitting on this post for about a month and today feel like releasing it to the universe***

As we head into Mother's Day weekend with the first of four events rolling out this afternoon with the boys. I am very excited how we are spending the upcoming holiday weekend. More to come, but today will involve a giant box of toothbrushes.

From mid April 2012:

Someone stopped me Monday back at work and commented on what I was wearing. They went on to say I looked happier than they ever remembered. I am.

I'm happy not just for being comfortable in a new body for also for what just feels like a lightness beyond weight removed.

I thanked them and didn't elaborate that yes while a MAJOR piece of this happiness is physical it is also so much more.

I think part of it is wrapped up with setting boundaries with my time/work/sleep and then not negotiating. It's recognizing when negativity is becoming a default or stopping a trigger before is envelops me. In all honestly not being torn about making the drive to SC as caretaker is a part. Maybe getting starting the week in a meaning place where come mopping the floors I find myself thinking about something that stuck.

What this co worker really doesn't know is at 37 I feel better in almost every way than I can remember. As much as this year has had difficulty, I feel like I am walking in sunlight more days than I can remember.

I saw this piece on 60 minutes recently. Out of destitution has been created beauty. The last 3 minutes or are joy inducing to see and hear beautiful music being played under the most dire of circumstances.

Everything about this segment is hopeful, beautiful, joyful.

Make that Joy.Full.

I'll answer that I feel the same.

Monday, May 7, 2012

I think we're going to need a bigger cake

Teacher appreciation week for both boys is here.

I owe Ben’s teachers a group discount on a cruise for their help and support this year. From his classroom teachers to the after school teachers, they have earned combat pay.

So outside of buying a classroom set of mini white boards off his teacher’s wish list I got them STAWBERRIES!!!!

For both Ben and Ian’s teachers I picked up a bazillion strawberries at the big farmers market. I made my great grandmother’s crusty cream cheese poundcake and paired a handwritten note (or scribble in Ian’s case) to say thank you.

Friday, May 4, 2012

An Occasional 2012 Friday Series: Project Runway

Summer weather is here!

What better to battle 90 degree days than dresses? I’m not much of a girly girl but I love some swishy skirts and dresses on a hot day. This week I wore the following dresses and paired with the earrings I recently made.

From White House, Black Market, a store I have long been waiting to finally be able to fit into their clothes this gem. A whole store of just black/white clothing, I’m waiting at the door folks.

From Target for a total cost of under $30 for the scarf and dress. This navy dress with surplice neckline is super versatile and super comfortable. Today I paired it with giant hoop earrings and sandals. I’ve already worn it several times and have plans to pair it with leggings this fall.

Then the motherload: the much sought after maxi dress. I pair it with a little white cardi for school but out of school it was perfect for a recent date night.

I think this is my favorite item I have bought post surgery.

Not that I’m advocating for a slo-mo cat walk complete with a fan blowing when I enter the room but everything about this dress makes me feel amazingly confident.

***Note the straight hair in a couple of the shots. I’ve been blowing it out straight every other day. I’ve gotten faster and not washing my hair daily buys me a little more sleep***

Cute (straight) hair and more sleep? Double Score.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

April Fools'

April 2012: returning to work post surgery 2, lots of behavior issues with Ben, an abysmal teacher conference, starting family/behavior therapy, extra work obligations for both adults, fighting with the state of SC to close my mom’s probate case.

You could say that the whole month felt like an extended April fools' joke.

Luckily I said no to several potential time sucker obligations, budgeted my time once home to maximize what had to get done, and so many nights called it early and just went to bed.

When I made my time a 2012 priority, April was successful.

May is already looking good on the planning front. We have consensus about the med trial, meeting with the summer tutor planned, ass-kicking awesome mother’s day weekend upcoming, school is winding down and I am not, repeat NOT working in any capacity, and probate is scheduled to close at the end of the month.

In light of a almost year long probate of my mom’s estate, Bill and I have revised our wills, set up trusts for each child with guardianships should we die before they are of age. Yesterday we signed off on all the paperwork and wrote a large check for the peace of mind not to saddle our kids with a mess.

Some many times in April being the parent or adult in the room was painfully obvious. I pray that decisions made will payoff. With May already rolling along I feel good that with April behind us, the summer is on the horizon.

Our annual big summer family fun list is in the works and with Ian a year older and able to do more, summer 2012 is looking good.