Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Excuses, Excuses

Lately, little man has been rather consistent with his creative excuses. I thought I'd share some of his more popular because they are just a small glimpse into how awesome that boy is:

  • "I can't know how"
  • "I'm not allowed to. We are rivals!"
  • "I can't eat apples. Apples are from Satan. That's what the Bible says." (ref: Eve & the first sin)
  • "But, I'm decorating!!!" (as he's lining up his toys in the living room)
  • "But, I'm organizing!!!" (as he's refusing to put his dishes in the sink, or put anything where it would typically go...)
  • "I'm going to die because you don't feed me!" (says Caydon after his second dinner)
  • "You're friends with Satan because you won't let me have X or do Z."
  • "Mommy, we are supposed to share. You aren't being a good friend right now because you won't share OUR phone with me!"
  • "Umm. That's ok!" (as in, "I don't want to" when I tell him to do something)
  • "But, I'm so nice. I'm letting you see my toys!" (as he leaves toys in my room)
  • "Let's give it a little scootch so you can look at my toys." (as he reorganizes my furniture around his toys)
  • "But, God told me to!"
  • "I don't see it, but I know there is invisible hair in the bathtub. So, I need another new water..." (he actually has moments where he completely freaks down because he'll find a hair in the water. Gotta love SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder))
  • "But, I made it just for you! That was your special surprise!" (the justification for stacking up all of his toys on the kitchen table and not wanting to clear it for dinner)
  • "It's my collection" (the line of toys that goes throughout the entire house... clearly not interested in moving it)
  • "But, I was good this morning! So now it's mine!"
  • When he wants me to buy something. Me: "Caydon, do you have money for X?"  Him: "But, I don't have money. Maybe, it's free!"
  • "Mommy, I need a doggy, and a brother, and a sister, and a daddy to do that!" (his way of talking back and finding an excuse for disobedience)
  • "But, I have to go potty in your bathroom. It saves us money."
  • "Muh--ommm! I am an omnivore! That means I only eat meat! So, I can't eat the broccoli or the strawberries because it's against my rules!"
  • "I will die for Jesus. And someone will kidnap me. And cook me. And eat me. Because you don't like my collection!! All by myself!! IN THE DARK! So, do you like my collection? Or NOT?"
  • "You're always bad" (after I make him do something)
Little Man, crazy hair day @ VBS :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

MudRoom to Office Reveal

Phew! Two blog posts in one day... just goes to show how busy we have been lately! With the help of my little man who loves to decorate but hates to clean (just like his mommy!), I was able to finish my mudroom to office transformation. Half of the room is wall to wall boxes... all most of my teaching stuff! I unpacked a little bit (which you'll see... I organized ALL of the gazillion papers I had...) and repacked the rest. It was a tiring process, for sure! The wall of boxes will also transform to an organized stash of foster parenting supplies so that I can easily access the goods. So when I get a 6 month old in the middle of the night, I will have clothes, diapers, bottles, food supplies, and a few toys ready to help me out. I'm very excited to start that stash! :)

I wish I had a "before," but just picture a room with an unheard of amount of boxes stacked on eachother. I never had a chance to unpack all of my craft room and photography supplies, and then stacked all of my teaching stuff on top of that mess. Good times!!

This was most the Kate Spade inspired stash that I bought to go with it. I am on a HUGE budget (Dave Ramsey style, mixed with single mom of a boy with autism, teacher budget, and foster parent-to-be. hah!):

Here is the room when you walk in:

Wall of boxes, concealed by that beautiful Ikea curtain. I think I lucked out.. normally, I hate Ikea fabrics! Found that rug at Ikea on clearance. I'd like to go bigger, but it works for now. That apple green chair is also Ikea, and that desk is from my childhood (aka FREE!).

On the desk:

Needs more color... but I love the clear stuff! I would like to add something fun ontop of the corkboard.

New Ikea bookshelf:
 Childhood pic :)

 Gotta love Ikea Shelves. Sorted paper, painting supplies, etc.

On top of the desk:
 All of my papers organized! I still need to make a few labels...

Speech therapy cards, Linguistics books, tools, mail, CDs for photography (yay for finally finding those!), etc.

I clearly have a few more things I'd like to do, but for now.. it works! I'm happy to finally be done with the major part of that project and move on to the rest of my to-do list...

A Different Choice: Part One

As a young single mom, I have been through quite a bit of choices and have consequently experienced a large realm of trials and blessings. I made the choice to raise a child alone, without the option of adoption or abortion (the latter of which I hardly considered... just not my style). I made the choice to not go after child support and to raise Caydon with my own yearning for stability. I have had sleepless days, and days where diapers and food were a struggle. I've spent weeks in the hospital, gone through the stress of not knowing what is wrong with my child, and have been through several diagnoses. I tell you this not to ask for pitty, but to tell you how blessed we are now. I have graduated from college and have found myself in a career that is admirable, secure, and great for our two person family. I have proudly hit the first step in Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover (where you get a decent amount of emergency money saved up). I have made a house turn into a home. I have guided my child through those life changing diagnoses and helped him turn them around. We have been blessed in so many ways; it's nothing less than a miracle.

Which is what leads us to our next chapter in our life.

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
Psalms 68:5-6

This was one of many Bible verses that helped us through our darkest moments. God has fathered, provided, defended, healed, forgiven, loved... Caydon and I in every corner of our life. He has made our empty, fatherless house turn into a home that He dwells in. One where His presence fills any gaps and turns around fatherless kids statistics such as how they are:

  • 4.6 times more likely to commit suicide,
  • 6.6 times to become teenaged mothers (if they are girls, of course),
  • 24.3 times more likely to run away,
  • 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders,
  • 6.3 times more likely to be in a state-operated institutions,
  • 10.8 times more likely to commit rape,
  • 6.6 times more likely to drop out of school,
  • 15.3 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenager.
  • With knowledge of these statistics, I used to seek a father figure for Caydon rather consistently. I will not lie that I almost married because of what I felt were Caydon's needs. However, I have found that those guys were still not a perfect father and that marrying them wouldn't fill gaps. ONLY God is able to fill gaps. Does this mean that I don't ever want to get married? Does this mean I don't want Caydon to ever have a male to refer to as his father? Saying I don't want these things would be a lie, but God has filled our gaps so well that we are content with our circumstances and are able to be patient with His timing. 

    I've been praying a lot about it, and I honestly feel that God wants me to focus on the youth of our generation via Caydon, teaching, volunteering in the children's ministry at church, and by foster parenting. 

    And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
    Matthew 18:5
    I truly feel that God has blessed my life so much because of my need to be able to help those around me. I hope I'm communicating this effectively and that I'm not trying to say that our life is perfect or snobby by any means. We are far from that. Yet, we have a roof over our head, a kitchen full of food, a car that works, a steady income, and a whole lot of love in our hearts. Considering where others who wear the shoes we have worn are, it feels so merciless to not help them out. There are kids that have never been tucked into bed at night, never been read a story to, never had a full meal, and never heard the simple phrase "I love you."  I honestly feel that it is everyone who has been blessed with the above's job to help those who are less fortunate out. Obviously, that is a brave and seemingly impossible statement, but I am confident that it is one that our world needs to hear. I also should state that I don't believe that this love should be mandatory, expected, or government issued.
     I think it should be given from our heart with the genuine interest of showing others love. 

    Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
    Isaiah 1:17
    I should take the time to say "thank you" to those of you who have helped me, or both of us, out in our times of need. From putting a roof over our head, buying us a meal, visiting us in the hospital, providing Caydon with shoes, diapers, a warm jacket, a car seat, or babysitting Caydon so that I could go to school or work... the list goes on. It's because of the people that I have been blessed by that I choose to pass on this blessing. One child at a time (and ideally more, if that option becomes available to Caydon and I), we are going to be putting roofs over a child's head, providing meals and medical care, clothing, diapering, tucking in, and loving. I believe this will be a simultaneous blessing for the families we help, myself, and Caydon. 

    Please keep us in your prayers as we embark back into this process. 
    I am planning on doing a Q&A Part Two continuation of this post, so please be sure to ask whatever question you have and stay tuned. :)

    Sunday, June 3, 2012

    May Dump

    Phew! What a crazy busy month... I am excited to say that I have made it through with [[most]] of my sanity. I honestly think a lot of the surviving is due to the fact that I have made it a purpose to ignore the to-do list that is coming out of my ears and take a moment to be in His word. It's true that God is a great comforter, provider, and source of strength (just to name a few!)  

    Alas, here is May summed up in a picture dump:
    First up, I was able to hang out with one of my favorite girls from my childhood. (Shout out!!) 
    She is a few years older than me (though way more exciting... I am def the boring old mom now lol) but she was ALWAYS one of those girls that I looked up to and that kind of took me under her wing. I guess I should say "look" as in present tense, too, because her amazingness hasn't changed since the last time I saw her 8 years ago. Here's to hoping she comes into this desert more frequently!!

    Caydon's packing for grandma. I took the AEPA test to finish my certification for teaching elementary, and he stayed with my mom. 

    Dealing with this:
    Anyone know why a 5 year old would have chronic cradle cRap?! We can't get rid of it... we use dandruff shampoo instead of No More Tears, you name it. So weird!! HOWEVER, it totally beats lice! I'll take it!!

    Growing Up:

    My beautiful little man graduated from preschool!!
     Furthermore, I am beginning to think that he "graduated" from his IEP. I can't see him being in the projected self-contained autism classroom... he's progressing like crazy and doing fairly well socially. I've also been battling an IEP that to umm.. remain professional... isn't one that I agree with. 

    Mother's Day:
    4 generations of love! Maternal side <3
    The boy who calls me mom.... my biggest blessing!
    Sweet present little man made for me! Adorbs!!

    Bible Study Playdate Saturdays.. which lead into lunch and play!
    His buddies! They are as amazing as their parents... I am so blessed to call them all close friends! (Their mommy is also the lady who baptized me a few months back!)
     His first time going on the train around the mall. He's always wanted to, but never been able. :)

    Baseball Games:
    "Train Ride" over... aka the lightrail. With my hs best friend!

     Being Mom:
    Teaching about Avengers
    Playing Ninja

     Optometrist Appointment
    Caydon doesn't need glasses like he was projected to! His eyes have actually improved!! This was great news for him... he hates doctors and anything touching his face! It was also great news for me because:
    My eyes didn't improve... they actually got worse. Joy! I did, however, buy my first pair of glasses since 6th grade. I clearly love the glasses look on me... ;)

    Wedding Weekends:
    I let her borrow my sunglasses. I can be a sweet daughter... sometimes. See?:
    The family was in town for a wedding weekend. My cousin got married... don't you love how family weddings seem to turn into a weekend rather than just a night? Can't complain the family visits, though!
    Photobooth Fun!

    Professional Development:
    National LETRS program: Education Neuroscience re: Reading Aquisition. LOVE it.. but it totally consumes the brain!
    Lately, anyway...

    My last day of my first year of teaching!!!! Did you catch that?!? Yeah... awesome!!!
     From my amazing mentor teacher, who is also now a close friend! <3

    Going away parties with my classes. I was honest with my students and told them that my chance of returning was slim... I don't want them to think I chose to "abandon" them or something. I did keep it professional, though, and explained this it is how it works being at the bottom of the totem pole. Nothing anyone can do! (Though a family did decide to write me a letter of recommendation.. Such a sweet offer!)  As for the job, I am still awaiting a contract, and am praying continuously for patience & a door to open. I am still trying to finish cleaning out my classroom. I have one more car trip left... my poor house exploded with my teaching supplies! I also did interview somewhere, so please keep my in your prayers as I await the news and continue praying for more interviews. Faith is hard, but so worth it!!

    Just kidding!!! 

    My to-do list still entails:
    -tons of professional development classes (8-5 Mon-Fri this coming week!)
    -burning/delivering a photography cd
    -finding a job!!
    -restarting the foster parenting process.. Cay's progress is allowing this to be an option finally!
    -finish cleaning out my classroom
    -organizing the classroom explosion in our home
    -hopefully a second date! ;)
    -figuring out Cay's kinder placement
    -giving Cay much needed attention from his mommy 

    Friday, May 4, 2012

    This Little Light

    I love-me a happy update! I hope you do, too, because I have quite a bit to share!On an I'm-totally-giddy-because-Cay's-future-looks-awesome note, I hope this doesn't come off like I'm bragging. Most of this is something that we've been waiting on... for a lonnnng time... and I wasn't sure if the day would come. There is a hope, ya'll!

    For awesomeness, My facebook status totally read this a few days ago:  My education just paid for itself! I got Cay exactly what I feel he needs academically. It was kind of a fight... SPICE with high inclusion support... They didn't want inclusion for him, but i fought the LRE card effectively. So he gets gen ed as often as he can, Adapted PE, pragmatics goal w the 6 others I wanted... We are set for Kinder! Now I just have to get over the fact that my baby isn't a baby anymore! :)   
    Yes! You read that right!! Caydon is no longer in COPE (the Emotionally Disabled self-contained class... why he was in there to begin with being that he is diagnosed with autism is beyond me..) and is now going to be in SPICE (the Autism self-contained class...)  It was a lot of stress to figure this out. Stress like the: make a chart and line up my options stress. I'm very excited about this because I wanted him to have autism support as needed, but still have a lot of access to the general education curriculum (phonics!!) and peer models. It doesn't seem like there is a perfect fit for these kiddos with high functioning autism, but I'm glad my boy is able to get the second best option...

    I also got this email the other day:
    Wahooo! Participating AND answering questions AND dancing/singing. All of which he normally wouldn't do. Progress, people! There was once upon a time that this boy almost ended up not going to church because he just couldn't nack it. Thankfully, with God's help and lots of patience from his teachers, he's doing well, as you can see. This mommy is proud!!

    And finally, in the light of Caydon and how bright his future is... we FINALLY got accepted into DDD. We are now in the intake process, which means that hopefully by this summer, he will be receiving respite, habilitation, and everything else he should have gotten 3 years ago. My, what a process. It's nice to see the light at the end of that tunnel!

    Saturday, April 28, 2012

    Just a little...

    Oh, my sweet boy. The witty things you do and say, simply because you are you.  

    Yesterday was my mom's birthday. We celebrated by going to her favorite restaurant, Joe's BBQ (amazing!), and then to her house for the party.  There was a line mix-up and, summed up, we ended up not waiting for my grandparents/aunt&uncle to get food since our food would be super cold. ((Rude.. I know... but it wasn't just a simple wait. If that makes sense...))
    (BTW, those aviators that my grandpa is rockin' is the pair he wore in the Vietnam War as a pilot... sweet, right!?)

    Well, Caydon was VERY concerned because my grandpa (his great) was still waiting on his food and was sitting at the table with us. He offered (sharing! wahoo!) some of his mac & cheese, applesauce... finally, his pickles. Anyone who knows Caydon, knows one of his primary food groups would be pickles. The boy LOVES pickles. And who wouldn't, right!? Caydon doesn't understand differences like this...

    The conversation went down like so:
    Cay- "You don't like pickles? Caydon loves pickles!"  
    Grandpa- "Just a little"
    Cay- "Oh, ok!"

    Of course... Cay proceeded to tear off the littlest piece he could for his "Double-G". Such a sweet boy he is. Literal, yes. Autistic, yes. Loving, without a doubt. Not only did I chuckle at his unique offer, I beamed because I really can't put into words how proud he makes me.

    The rest of the night was swell. The cake I baked wasn't burnt (!) and actually tasted yummy, the dress I bought my mom fit and she liked it... in addition to the picture of Cay (but that was a given for her to like), and instead of doing dishes, we used paper plates from Target that I've had my eye on and needed an excuse to use... so I surprised my parents by buying them and we were able to enjoy each other's company in a game of Apples to Apples instead of doing dishes. Score! 

    Wednesday, April 25, 2012

    Not Again...

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, my position at the school I've been teaching at is no longer. At first, I wasn't quite sure what the deal was. This caused me a TON of stress, naturally, because I took it quite personally. I am, by far, my worst critic. I was heartbroken because I felt like I had failed at my job, and, thus, failed my students. Well, I've come to find out that it wasn't a personal thing... It also wasn't technically a RIF (at least, I don't think it was). It has actually been happening to most new teachers that I work or went to school with. While I feel bad for the other teachers, I have to admit that I selfishly have a sigh of relief, as well. I definitely don't want others to go through this, but knowing that I'm not alone reassures me that I couldn't have done anything differently.

    So.. the scoop. I was hired as an Exclusionary (sp?) Teacher. Basically, since I wasn't highly qualified in English but was taking a position teaching it, I was only a one year contracted teacher. I believe this would also have been the case since I am a first year. (Or, so it seems with a lot of the other teachers I've heard this happening to.)  Since there are a few junior highs closing in the district, the teachers from the closing schools have dibbs on the jobs around the district. Then the teachers that are RIFd and elect to transfer within the district get placed. Finally, it's our turn as Exclusionary Teachers. Summed up, the chance of me going back to the school I've been at (being that the junior high teachers will probably jump on the chance to teach high school if they are qualified) is slim to none. Hence, my applying everywhere. Again. I thought I just went through this? Since I graduated last spring, I have moved homes 3 times, and am going on my 2nd time with my classrooms.

    Saying that I'm sad about my classroom going from this:

     to this:
    is quite the understatement.

    I wish I could show off my amazing students, but can't. You'll just have to take my word for it that these kids rock my socks and are out of this world amazing.

    Is utterly depressing. As are the questions from my students. I've been told by a fellow teacher that the expectation is that I turn the key in on the last day of school. Soo... I've been packing up slowly but surely whenever I have down time find a moment. (What teacher.... let alone sped teacher... has down time?!)

    I have yet to tell my students, but I'm not sure how much I can keep them assuming that I am transferring classrooms. They have the assumption that I am trading rooms with another teacher because mine is itty-bitty and the maxed out class sizes barely fit. I actually wouldn't have a place to sit another student should I get more in certain hours. Crazy!   Anyways, I've been planning on telling them how it is a logistics thing (so they don't feel I'm abandoning them, they don't get mad at the district, and it's all still truthful) the last week. I really don't want them to start giving up in the classes I teach or for them to get distracted by it/walk all over it. Time will tell when it happens. Please be praying for my students and I in this transition! I'm really worried about the students I've developed a close rapport with and that come to me for mentoring throughout the day. I'm also worried about where I'll end up, but I know God provides.

    Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps His word. -Hebrews 10:23

    Monday, April 23, 2012

    Loving Like Jesus Did

    I read a post that I thought was so inspiring, I just had to share it with my readers. It was about a Christian group who showed up to a Gay Pride Parade and Apologized.  I'm telling you, it's beautiful stuff. In a world where religion seems to forget Jesus' love and purpose, it was refreshing. Refreshing enough to share.

    So let's be honest. I'm not perfect. Are you? Even though my past and present isn't all roses, I still struggle to not judge other's thorns. As I try hard to continue strengthening my faith, I seem to separate myself from my friends who aren't encouraging. Not even on purpose... but because this is how I am inclined as a human. It's almost as if I put myself on a different level, even though I don't want to be. I know I'm not the only Christian who does this. I know Jesus didn't hang out with the righteous and the religious; He hung out with the prostitutes, and the tax collectors. He died for the sinner.  What a reality check in a world where people spit hateful words at the homosexual or the young girl having an abortion. God says it's not our place to judge but to love. It's our job to love others and to show God's love by doing so. Nathan, the group's leader, is a great reminder as to how Christians are called to embrace others and show what unconditional love is.