My daughter has a disability.

You may not see it on the surface and you may never even know when you talk to her. But she knows. We know. She doesn’t need a wheel chair or other outward preventions to aid her in disability. Instead, what she has is placed in her brain.Is it the chemical make up of her brain or is it some sort of defect that could have happened in utero? We will never know.

It makes her think differently than you me. When she is upset she yells out random large math facts and knows the answer. Or she tells you where she was and you were and what you were wearing and talking about when she heard a song last. To calm her rambling brain she memorizes the most intriguing things and in the most intriguing manners.

We used to be angry that she had to deal with this. We used to wonder why. Now we smile because it is her. The best advice her therapist ever gave me and my guy. “Love # 2 for who she is.” And boy howdy, do I ever! She is my sunshine and light. And really what is so wrong with knowing your limits always? And smart in such a unique way that you have this memory and brain function that allows you to catalog these amazing things?

The down side is people find disabilities as a weakness and treat them as such. Young children are not excluded. My daughter has spent the better half of her two years of schooling being bullied by kids. Mean and cruel kids that don’t get her uniqueness. In her social circles which are extremely small she is the quiet, very small girl who just wants to play with the few selected friends she has. She doesn’t get social norms and really doesn’t even understand why they exist. Thankfully, her therapy has gotten her to the point where she accepts that they exist and learns them like you would learn spelling words and math facts. She will not likely ever understand them.

This past week I feel so devastated for her because she had spent the week being bullied by an older kid on the bus who often referred to my baby girl as “her”. I don’t want to sit by “her”. Why would you like “her”? I don’t like “her”. What is wrong with “her”? She made her move from sitting by her friends and sitting all alone. She purposefully pretends like she doesn’t exist. Having conversations with the other people around and when she would speak shun her. Finally Friday arrived and she had taken all she could take. She comes in and hugs me and I can tell immediately something was wrong. She bursts into tears. I get the story. I follow the chain of command. Tell the principal and teacher. This has happened before a few times sadly.

From here I am gonna protect my daughters privacy, but I want to be very clear. Kids that get bullied are never at fault. EVER. It doesn’t matter if they don’t tell the immediate person in charge and only tell Mom and Dad. There is always two sides of the story but once you take it to bullying that is crossing the line. The bullier is WRONG!

Every single child has the right and ability to go to school without feeling belittled or harassed. My child has extra measures….she is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. When she was diagnosed we toyed with do we note this forever or do we maintain privacy. Well folks, we reluctantly had it noted. But just for this purpose to protect her legally always. My daughter’s disability is not outward. Every single bit of it is inward. It will always affect her more than it effects her social world. We had to protect her because we know that some of the issues she displays are not always understood by those in her presence. Therefore, making her a prime target of discrimination. Call it whatever you will, but folks that is what it is. Kids make mistakes and that I am willing to forgive. But allowing this pattern to continue, I will not.

Besides that my daughter is pretty cool. Eventually, she will find the perfect social circle that she fits into and every single one of them will fall in love with her like we have. She is always good for a giggle and extremely secure in who she is in this world. I think that intimidates people. I just wish it would happen sooner than later.

This is where I catch up—-365

One of these days I won’t play catch up. I am on my eight-nineth day of a fever. It isn’t as high but it is there and enough to keep me pretty mellow. I did check in with my family doc today to see when and if I should would. They suggested waiting till Wednesday and if I still have it then maybe do another lab draw. I still think I just caught some cooties from my baby girls and it kicked my butt hard cause of my surgery. Surgery stuff feels great and I wouldn’t take any of it back. I am still functioning teaching and my own classes I just come home and crash. Which is catching up with my house but what ya gonna do?

365.88-Baby Girl #3 Had Croup (evidence of cootie 1)-Look closely. We have a technology attachment already.

365.89-I love my lefty. 365.90-My mixer broke, mashing it up old school365.91-Baby Girl #1 rocking a pale face and a fever along with a head full of snot (Evidence of cootie 2)

What is it I have you say?

Yet more time has passed and I have not made it to the blog. In fact, I have barely made it to any of my beloved internet hang outs. If it didn’t come in the form of my tiny blackberry screen I didn’t partake. That is because I have spent the better part of the last week and half with a fever. I only had Tuesday and Wednesday where my fever dipped down to the mid 99’s. The rest of the time it hovered between 101-102. Given the surgery I underwent red flags flew, so I did visit the ER. Where I generously donated more blood than I care to admit and did weird tests for “surgery based illnesses”. All of which came back fine. Instead, what did show was a “unnamed virus” that could last 7-10 days. Oh great, we are 7 days in and I “think” maybe I am starting to feel better.

That though, is not why I am here to write at 4 in the morning. Especially given I have been up since 2:30. I am in a weird spot yet again. I am over halfway through my masters degree program and decisions have to be made. I usually try to not look back but in this instance it is hard not too. I decided on my university because it is close, has a reputation because of the larger universities it is attached too and I did my undergrad work there. Once there I fell in love with the smaller campus and it is also easier to get know and work with the profs and I have enjoyed that immensely. I can honestly say there is something about each and everyone of them I like. I like that they push me, they challenge me and that they know what they can expect from me and will never let me settle for less. Not to mention the friendships I have made in my time there. I already get so sad thinking about those friendships changing. I am not sure if that is always possible at larger campuses.

But something has changed. Or maybe I changed. I don’t know. Or maybe now that I am larger part of the system and I see things that have changed my outlook. I just struggle being a part of it. When I was an undergrad I really did idolize the masters program and I can’t place my finger on it or this feeling and where I need to go to “fix” it or if it is even something that is fixable and not just the natural order of things. Maybe that is the problem you walk in with stars in your eyes and you get let down. Being that I spent the better part of the last week laying down thinking and possibly over thinking all of this I have had a lot of time to comb over stuff and I can feel indifference erupting from me, but I am not sure what I can even do about any of it.

And because I am a graduate student I know that is very possible this might be part of the process. Because as I have found in grad school it causes and exposes those raw nerves and challenges you to heal them or make them different. I was told very early on by someone I consider my friend and mentor that grad school takes everything you think you know and turns it on its head and sometimes back around. So maybe that is this feeling. It is me breaking from the institutionalized school of thinking that comes natural as an undergrad to a more complex and personal way of thinking about education that I believe comes as a graduate student.

What I don’t like is the gut feeling I get when I think about it. Maybe it is the current state of education everywhere. I don’t think I am posting some new flash that our education system, specifically in Indiana alone, is hugely flawed. Or maybe there is some underlying issue that I haven’t placed my finger on yet either inside of me or in secondary education. All I have to rely on are instincts and I can remember back to the Fall semester of 2010 when I entered the graduate program. I was full of hope and change and the belief that I could make changes. Now here it is Spring semester of 2012 and I feel like I am still in the search for my own academic identity. Is that me or it is them or is it a combination? Or it is something else entirely? I am extremely proud to be an alumni of this university and to have the opportunity to teach there and eventually hold my masters from the their program. I really think some of what this is is me finding my academic self in the midst of the educational warfare that seems to be taking place in this country and feeling an inability to change any of it.

I suspect some of what I am remiss about as well is the mere power of money in education. This could apply to primary and secondary educational systems. I find myself horribly angry and belligerent that student needs don’t dictate policies and educational funding.   Instead, the focus is squarely placed on money dictating the kind of education students get (I speak solely here of education as a whole). Who controls the money? Is it the educators? The schools? Nope, it is politicians most of whom know little to nothing about education. This is wrong people. I think I naively believed I could be the change I wanted to see in the world (Gandhi). But I unless I have 50 million in my pocket my change won’t make a dent.

Therefore, I think what I am actually trying to do is find my footing in this educational system and deciding if I want to be a part of it. I love the teaching, but a lot of the time I feel powerless to make changes and that is a shitty place to be. Of course, I see and know the power I have being at the head of the class and teaching. Those changes are palpable and tangible. But that is a power that has to be restrained and respected and really only accounts for small portions of what I do or what I can do in the future given my decisions. Maybe these are growing pains, testing my resolve. Or maybe I am just in a weird “who am I going to be in life” spot.

But most of all it is cynicism in the system, the process and those who have agendas in it; that I don’t deal well with. I want my power back. Can that be done via a voting booth? Via activism? Via a classroom? Via all of them or none of them? I made the obvious decision to pursue this area, but I always made it knowing there were other avenues of pursuit at the end I could take. And that there my dear readers is the decision that needs to be made and is keeping me up at night.

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Edited later to add: Sharing because this article says it so much better. As well, I should clarify my problem is not with my university as much as it is finding my place within it. Like do I continue my education for a PhD within the same system or do I move on? Do I utilize my degree differently than academia? If yes, then what? It comes down to determining what I want for myself and how I can make things better as I see it. The life of an adjunct or going on for PhD? Or do I dive back into business? I spent many years successfully in business and really enjoyed it. I am just ambivalent and looking for the magical answer in the sky.

I love you but…

Man have the love vibes been flowing up in here. I love my guy, I love my girls, I love my bed, I love my family, I love my friends and Man oh man have you figured out I love my life? And while all that is great and good I feel the urge to be true to myself. I always hate when you are blurfing (blog surfing) and you stumble upon a love fest blog that comes across more like my life is perfect….NAH NAH…yours sucks.

Here at MR I am all about being true to myself and you. If only those blurfing would go old school MR they would see sometimes life bites. I just have this crazy idea that I can’t change everything, so I ignore it. Otherwise known as, I took many drugs during my surgery and can you tell I am an, “I love you” drunk?

Therefore, I believe it is time to make some startling confessions.

  1. I love having the bed to myself. And I kind of like to take the occasional nap. I cuddle up with #3 so she can warm me. I am a total user.
  2. I cannot believe no one gave me crap about my Carebear Bedspread…yes folks. I love it. I sleep with it every single night of the year because I am the mom and I can.
  3. While on the subject of my bed, my sheets are different than my blanket and my pillow case is different then both. They are all chosen that way because they are incredibly soft and I love the soft. In the words of Pioneer Woman from the episode from January 21, “Look it is..(Damn I cannot remember what she said but it was good and had something to do with being old but pretty).”
  4. I have a cold. I have a giant sized cold with snot, sore throat and everything. But I figured I already begged for too much sympathy that it would be “unkuth” of me to ask for more. Besides I don’t feel near as miserable as I did a week ago.
  5. Sometimes my girls get on my last nerve. I love them I do. But have you been in a house full of girls? If one is not crying, one is screaming and mad at the other. When they do get along it is in a secretive you are not a part of OUR CIRCLE, Mom sort of way!
  6. My guy as adorable and lovable as he may be snores like he is sawing wood for the next great railroad rush. I punch him through the night on a regular basis. Sometimes there may even be bruises.
  7. I looked at my cell phone today I have sent and received combined almost 6000 messages this month (Thank goodness for unlimited texts). The scary and sad part, well there is two scary and sad parts, is that almost 5000 of them were one word answers like: ok, True, Good and the like. And the scary 2nd: I text like five to seven people all together.
  8. I am the woman who a year ago proclaimed I would just use texting as a convenience. Now apparently I use it to keep me company. :/ I did give myself some leeway because of the surgery. I did text odd ball people and more than usual. Next month’s goal. 3000 meaningful texts with two words at least.
  9. The reason that my house still reaked of brussel spouts was actually not the fault of the poor little brussel sprouts. It was the fault of this woman who left the pan they were cooking in my sink unwashed.
  10. When I was working on “Less of Me” I was rarely sick and rarely struggled with migraines. Since “Less of Me” went on hiatus in the semester that killed me (RIP Fall 11′) I have been sick a lot. Not miserable kill me sick, but sick. I had to have surgery for migraines. Do I even need to say what this points too? Good news, I officially lost 14lbs during my surgery stuff. A great start for when I can actually work out again which is happening soon.

So I guess you can see while I have a really awesome life, perfection is far from it. I get by with sarcasm, friends, family, reruns of Big Bang Theory and of course my carebear bedspread.

365.87-Pin it baby!

Yes folks, you see that right. I tortured my family with brussel sprouts last night (imagine yourself hearing me say….oh yea to some slow and steady beat right now). They went nuts. They could not believe I would make them eat something that looked like THAT! I tried to convince them they are very similar to their favorite green veg, the asparagus. They did not buy into it at all. #3 says, “Eww momma, they stink!” #1, ate it but held her nose & # 2 decided to dip hers in ranch. Meanwhile, they loved that I had a pile on my plate and I ate them all!

And folks, I am all about multi-tasking here in MRland so that folks will be my third pin for the week.

PIN3) The recipe can be found here and I loved it. It cooked nicely and I left out the pine nuts. Mostly because I never have pine nuts. I am not even sure I have ever bought pine nuts. Who buys pine nuts….wait a minute…Mommy Jargon, I bet you have pine nuts? There was one major downside to making these little green gems. The smell. Folks, two wax melting sessions and my house still smells like cabbage. EWWW! Tread cautiously when you know you aren’t having guests. Or just don’t enjoy unpleasant long lasting smells. I fall into the latter.

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Just pinning life away….Watch me pin here.

New Year Resolutions (Finally!)

I feel like I am a few weeks behind in my life.  I am still thinking about resolutions and what I want for my life in 2012.  Of course the first thing that comes to mind is always eating better and exercising more when I think of resolutions, so that seems like a given every year.

I love to read and I loaded up my nook after Christmas so reading more would be a nice resolution that doesn’t hurt one bit!  Unlike the previous one…  I have also started using goodreads.com  to see what friends are reading and to share favorite books.

The next one that I am excited about is to try and do either a craft/sewing/knitting project each week.  Another nice fun one that I will enjoy!  In fact I finally finished a project that I started a few months ago and it has been a big hit with the kiddos!

My next one is a little harder, but only in remembering to do it.  Taking more pictures!  I have really slacked off on this as anyone could see by my poor un-updated flickr site.

My last resolution that I have decided on this year is to have more get-togethers  with family and friends.  It seems like life is passing by so quickly and I want more time with the people I love.

So there it is my resolutions for 2012, none too difficult, but all to make my life a happier one!

365.85 & 86

Nothing like curling up with a good book in the winter…If there is a pen chances are it may be less about good and more about trying get smarter (365.85)

You better watch out…I am making things better for myself…One by one (365.86)

Just Write-Grace

As a parent there are funny teaching moments that happen as your children grow up. The weird awkward ones that for me usually stem from well versed social norms that my children had not yet embraced or even understood. For example, teachable moments like where we don’t blatantly call someone fat. Yes, I believe, all of my children have done this. The intentions are never full of malice or harm. But still what person likes to hear a tiny toddler say of them, “Momma, that person is fat.” Or worse yet when they point the finger back at you and say, “Momma, why is your skin jiggly?” (I speak not from experience…yeah right).

How many present days (aka birthdays, Christmas and the like) did you watch in horror as your child opened a gift they either did not like or had already received? It is as if you were watching it in slow motion and praying to everything holy that what is on their face is not being read or worst yet….SAID. But it does get said and you sit back shielding yourself from the judgmental light that is now being bestowed upon your head.

These moments provide great parental passage into the teaching of grace but grace, the word, to define and to talk about and make more tactile is hard. What exactly is grace? Is it how we deal with things? Is it how we speak? Is it a thing? Is it how we act? A verb…grace? Or a noun…Grace? I imagine each person has to define grace by how they believe and use it’s powers. For me, it certainly has it roots in religion and spirituality but it is also much more. It is a verb. It is an action that one chooses to impart into their daily dealings. And more than anything in my daily life it is my filter. It is the way by which I try and think before I speak. That certainly does not mean that I do so all the time. Most of the time when I react without thinking I found I have left my grace at home.

But teaching children to have grace seems a much easier task and really the audience is more forgiving right? What happens when we are an adult and we say something, maybe even unintentionally, that comes out and leaves those in it’s path hurt or worse mad? My biggest struggle is having grace when that happens to me. When people say intentionally cruel things or speak without thinking but I then become required to apply some sort of grace to the situation I find myself irritated. Why can I not just revert back to those toddler ways pretend like I didn’t know it was not okay to be an jerk back to them the way they were an jerk to me?

I guess that is the funny thing about grace. You have to practice it to have it. So one could surmise that in order to have grace it requires at least a meager amount of forgiveness or forgetfulness. Both of which I am terrible at. I don’t forgive easily and really when it comes to hurt I don’t forget either. Somehow grace wins in the end for me. But mostly because I don’t like confrontation. I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe to be right and true but would I argue that I am graceful? Not at all but I think the word graceful and full of grace are very different. When I can flip on that ‘grace filter’ I think that makes me more forgiving because it gives me time that normally a reaction in the moment without grace will not.

Therefore, as I try and decipher grace’s illusive meaning and apply it’s practicality to myself I can see that while I might not inhabit Grace, I certainly have sustained it in action. Maybe not always in beauty but certainly in kindness. The idea that grace is equated with beauty I believe lies in the principles of forgiveness and fortitude. Both actions of beauty and kindness at work.

As you contemplate why this post? Why today? As with most moments in anyone’s life that garner attention, people say things without thinking. Think of that portly woman being asked, “How far along are you?” Or “at least it is not cancer” to the woman who just had surgery or the girl who has been dealing with cancer and cancer threats for four years and someone sentimentally tells her, “Feel better soon” as if chicken noodle soup and a days rest will put cancer fears back to bed. All comments meant with what I hope to be masked in kindness just come across as jerky. I had a few. I have heard a few my friends have received them. It got me thinking how great this “grace filter” is sometimes. (Click on pictures for credits)

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One thing to Pin and Another to…

Actually follow through on that pin. That was always the problem I saw with pinterest. Great intentions that end up making me feel like a failure. Well pinterest has actually blown up and I have fallen more and more in love with pinterest. The crafty stuff….nah. The food…the inspiration to be better and to achieve something better…Yeah! That is my mantra lately, right? Therefore, I have made it my goal to follow through on at least 100 pins this year. I set the goal high enough to achieve but low enough to be achievable.

While I have been convalescing I have been seeking out comfort. Surgery went well and well recovery had a speed bump or two.  Today I just decided to try and forget about that and do what I can do. I gotta get up and get moving for my family. I don’t feel 100% but honestly as a mom I don’t always get to. Yes I am being the martyr but I need it in this moment. I haven’t been afraid to ask for help when it was needed but I also am pushing myself to be there. I am a huge fan of “fake it till you make it” as I have said here at least 1 bajillion times. Plus really how many Real Housewives Marathons can a person stand?

So where was I comfort? Whenever I am sick or down I feel myself seeking out comfort via food. I always go back to what I know. Soups and warm hearty meals. This little trip down health renewal was no different.

Pin1) Chicken and Dumplings-Before surgery I scoured pinterest for a recipe to finally try. It had to be low maintenance as my guy would be cooking it. But had to be high caliber as my kiddos were eating it. My guy put together the most amazing pot of chicken and dumplings from this recipe I found on Pinterest. The dumplings were so amazing and by far the best part. We went smaller and less (per comments in comments area) and still thought they could be paired down a bit more even. The girls liked them too. Make this now…or yesterday!

PIN2) Crockpot Lavacake-I have had this cake and typically will make Mr. Food’s very simple version but I was not making it. It had to be even simplier since my guy doesn’t really do the cooking around these parts. Earlier this fall I remember running across recipes for this delicious cake and seeing a crockpot version. At the time I didn’t pin it because I didn’t believe it and I thought who would crockpot such an easy recipe. I, of course, will eat my cake because I needed an easier recipe. My guy went to town making this. It was so amazing and all the girls were in love. The goo it makes it so wonderful. It pairs awesomely with ice cream. You are silly if you don’t try it.

Now I apologize for no photos. Truthfully, there will be photos in the future but I have been more focused on the little things lately and the camera is no part of that. Just know they were every bit as lovely and yummy looking at they are in their perspective pins.

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Just pinning life away is a new post I intend to try and do once a week. Watch me pin here.

Why I love my guy!

I certainly don’t want to portray my relationship as some sort of fairytale that is always perfect. But I think that is the beauty that my guy and I have found in our marriage. We both get it isn’t always about those take your breath away moments. Certainly those exist but it is how you feel in the toughest moments you have. It is when you can walk away with overflowing love in your heart that you know you are living a real version of the right kind of life. I have never doubted my guys love for me. But after this surgery it most certainly has been reaffirmed. In some ways, I won’t embarrass him and in other ways it is too sweet to not say Thank God for him.

-The bathroom trips have been endless and he managed to get me there and out while allowing me to maintain some dignity and privacy

-Cried when I was scared with me and smiled when I was happy

-Never let my hand go ever

-Took care of the girls superbly

-Did laundry and cooked amazing meals even when I complained because I wasn’t the one cooking

-When I was at my worst last night he sat on his knees beside the bed and rubbed my toes because that was the only thing that I didn’t cringe in pain when touched

-Has woke up around the clock since Thursday to give me my pain meds (this is huge for him because he adores sleep and has been dealing with #3’s sleeping struggles right now)

And typical my guy fashion when I woke up this morning feeling better he warned the girls that Mommy would be on a “the house is a mess” rampage. What he didn’t plan on or think about was that #2 never keeps secrets. She comes running back to the bedroom and says, “Daddy says, “Today will be bad. You are gonna get mad cause the house isn’t clean to your standards.” He must have known she was headed back here because he comes back and gives me the awkward cute smile. I say, “really? You are gonna be so wonderful and then talk bad about me and think she won’t say.” Luckily he has a few inches with me. 🙂 Love isn’t perfect. And lucky for him it is forgiving.