Tuesday, September 27, 2011

10 Ways to Know There are Boys Under My Roof

For the past three years I have been a single mom with two boys on a full-time basis. They would go to their father's every other weekend, your typical parenting arrangement.

As of this past month, the boys have been spending a week with their father and then a week with me. I never realized how much I miss them and how LOUD they can truly be until the place was empty.

This weekend after they returned, it occurred to me that anyone could walk into my house at any point in the day and know whether or not it was the boys' week with me or their father.

Here are 10 Ways to Know There Are Boys Under My Roof:

1. You can hear statements like "Quick, smell my feet!" (Yes, I heard this EXACT sentence on Sunday!)

2. There are Legos in the bathroom.

3. You have a sore on your foot/twisted ankle/wrenched knee after stepping on a Hot Wheel.

4. You are being explained the "ins and outs" of Star Wars even after saying "I have no idea what you are talking about."

5.There's the popping of guns going off. I live in a historical neighborhood but not a war zone!

6. The toilet isn't flushed, the lid is up and there's no toilet paper on the roll.

7. The couch cushions and pillows are all over the floor.

8. As you walk into the house you find a jacket, followed by a backpack, then another jacket, a pair of shoes, a Storm Trooper (see # 4), another backpack and one sock, all within three feet of each other.

9. The television is playing Sponge Bob on loop.

10. There's two girls ringing my doorbell!

Even with all the noise, the mess, the fighting and Sponge Bob, I wouldn't trade one minute of my time with them for anything!!

My kids aren't naturally horizontal, Blogger keeps doing this to me and after 45mins, I quit. Just tilt your head, K?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back to School: Am I Crazy for Doing This?

 eeeeep!!

I'm starting grad school today!

It's been fourteen years since the last time I was a student!

Fourteen years since I had to worry about due dates, research papers, group projects, late night study sessions and so help me, grades!

Fourteen years since I stepped foot onto a college campus.

Fourteen years since I felt pride in what I hold inside of my brain!

I've spent the past couple of days wondering if I can do this again. Do I have it in me to handle three classes, my kids, two blogs and working? I haven't taught in over 8 years, can I even remember what I learned as an undergrad?

What if I'm the oldest person in the classroom? What if my years away from a classroom give me little to use as a frame of reference?

I hope that I do not look like an idiot in front of my professors or my peers. I hope I can contribute to discussions with intelligent thoughts. I hope that I am able to be a valuable member during group projects.

More than anything, I really hope that I am able to be successful as a graduate student.

I never imagined having a Bachelors degree, let alone a Masters. Education wasn't something we discussed in my family. My parents weren't big scholars. They didn't enjoy school, in fact my father had a very rough time with his schooling. They didn't talk to me about going to college or anything post high school really. I just sort of found my way to a university, all the while never really thinking I would succeed.

My education is one of the things I am most proud of in my life. Recieving a masters degree is something that I can not even fathom, even now.

Personally, I have a lot riding on the next two years. It's time I get back into the classroom full-time. While I once doubt my ability to be an effective teacher, I now know I have something to offer children with special needs.

I'm very excited to increase my knowledge of child development, best practices in education and the learning challenges of the special needs population.

In the back of my mind, there is this doubt just tiggling away...I really don't want to let myself down.

For more on my fears about starting graduate school, check out my personal finance blog, The Debt Princess.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How Full is Your Bucket?

I have borrowed the title of this blog post from  How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life. I did not write this book. I do not benefit from the sales of this book (unless you use the link to buy it from Amazon). And I am not claiming ownership of it. I just enjoyed this book and the title fit.

Do you have a Bucket List? Are you actively trying to mark items off of that list as you go through your life? Is the list something that you feel like you will never accomplish?

I was reminded of my own bucket list while reading a blog post from Budgets Are Sexy. It is one of my favorite blogs and J$, the author is hosting a giveaway over the next few weeks. The giveaway sponsor, Life Insurance Finder, is giving away $500 to help you achieve something on your bucket list. (This blog post is one of my entries into the contest.)

I sat down to type out my Bucket List, also an entry for the contest on the post and got to thinking; What have I done to bring these to fruition?

On my list are:

1. Be credit card debt free. If you follow my other   followed my former blog The Debt Princess then you know what a huge accomplishment this would be. I'd prefer to do this by paying off the debt and not filing for bankruptcy.

2. Get a passport.

3. Have a reason to use said passport.

4. Travel the world alone.

5. Travel internationally with my children while they are still young.

6. Fly in an F-16.

In looking at my list, I think the $500 could help me knock off one item and be applied towards the goal of another.

I could certainly use the money to apply for a passport, whether it will be useful or not is not yet known. And I would apply the rest of the $500 to my quest for being debt free. I have a credit card bill that is around $475. I think I could pay it off!

I'm fired up to win! Are you going to enter too? (I kinda don't want you to though ;))

What's on your bucket list?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's [Not] in the Label

He loves to learn, is inquisitive beyond any creature I've ever encountered.

He is disturbed by changes in his schedule and has a hard time transitioning with unexpected events.

He absorbs information like a sponge and reads anything he can get into his hands.

He prefers to avoid loud situations and isn't inclined to take risks.

He is above the rest of his class in academics as well as cognitive thinking processes.

He often cringes when receiving physical contact; other times he craves strong bear hugs and "rough-housing".

He wants to be a scientist, discover something new, make something amazing and be well known for his brain.

He frequently obsesses about certain objects, unanswered questions or open ended schedules.

He processes language as an adult and has the vocabulary of a collegiate scholar.

He has trouble with certain textures, materials and tastes.

He analyzes situations from all angles and usually comes up with the correct summation without difficulty.

He struggles in many social situations and has difficulty making friends his own age.

He is my eight year old son, Ean and he is amazing!

There is also a high probability that he has Asperger's Syndrome.

I say probability because I have never had him tested for AS. I have done this for a number of reasons.
Ean was about 20 months old when I noticed some delays, mostly gross motor. He didn't jump until he was nearly 2. His coordination was poor and is to this day. He was unwilling to take risks when playing on things like a jungle gym, a balance beam or trampoline. He did not accomplish a front roll until he was nearly 4yrs old and had been in gymnastics class for 6 months.

He also had trouble in social situations. He was afraid to approach other kids and would get very upset because he felt like he couldn't play with anyone. On the flip side, he loved speaking with adults, especially Senior Citizens. He seemed to be drawn to them.

When he was around 2 he became an extremely picky eater and he continues to be. He began spitting foods out and often times vomiting when he didn't want to swallow something. He began to throw temper tantrums at the dinner table when anything new was introduced. At 8 years old, dinner will still end the same way if I were to force him to take one bite of a new food.

Around the age of 2 1/2 to 3, he began to show a great deal of anxiety. In some situations it was so severe that he would, again, vomit from the stress. His anxiety peaked about the age of 7 and has since shown a great deal of improvement however there are still many times when a panic attack occurs.

Ean began counseling when he was about 6 1/2. At the time he was tested for a sensory impairment but did not qualify for school services. He did see an Occupational Therapist for 2 years to work on controlling his body (The "How Does Your Engine Run?"program did wonders for him, I highly recommend it!).

He also spent a few months with a Speech Therapist to work on feeding issues. It was a VERY slow process but after 6 months, he began eating peas without any issues. He loves them now but that is the only new food he has added in 6 years.

The school psychologist suggested we conduct the testing for Autism when Ean was in the first grade. As a former special education teacher with a number of years working within the Autism spectrum, I felt it was unnecessary. During all this time, Ean has done extremely well in school. He has shown very few problems in the classroom. In fact, the teachers have been shocked to find out he was in counseling because he was such a model student. The issues seemed to only occur at home. I felt that in all likelihood he might be diagnosed as having a high-functioning form Asperger's Syndrome.

I was concerned that Ean would become a label and not an individual. I encountered a number of people who would ask about him. I would let them know I suspected he had AS and they would ask about what it was. If I were to state that it is a very high-functioning form of Autism, I would immediately hear a sigh in their voice and a "ahhh." I don't want Ean to become a "sigh." I want him to be "EAN!"

There are some individuals who benefit from being labeled, of this I have no doubt. I also feel that in many situations, a label can bring about unnecessary roadblocks. I worried that this would be the case with Ean and so, we have worked outside of school on coping skills. He does quite well with them too. I'm very proud of him.

Everyone is more than their label! I believe that part of achieving a Five Star Life is moving beyond the label and being joyful in everything that makes a person unique! As Ean grows, I hope he continues to be accepting of his differences from "the norm" and begins to understand how truly amazing his uniqueness makes him.